Not From Concentrate

Spaghetti Bolognese


Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti bolognese is something of a staple in my family. For most of my life growing up, every Sunday after church we had spaghetti and meat sauce (because we never called it bolognese but it’s the same idea) with garlic bread and sweet tea. My mamaw and papaw have a great recipe that we always seemed to have a few containers of in our fridge. These days I like to experiment with different methods and recipes for the same dish, so I was excited to try this recipe from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution cookbook!

The first time I gave it a go, it came out less saucy and more like spaghetti with ground beef on top. The ground beef tasted amazing, but it isn’t quite the desired effect. Turns out I didn’t chop my vegetables small enough. Who knew? I’ll tell you who: Pasan. He pointed out my error when I was serving dinner. That would possibly have been better information to hear about an hour and a half earlier, but oh well. This time, he decided that he should be in charge of the chopping. Jamie Oliver says in his cookbook not to worry about technique, just chop the veggies into as tiny pieces as possible. I must have missed that the first time. This time it turned out quite saucy! But I didn’t serve it the ideal way, which is to mix half of the sauce with the pasta and then add more once it’s on the plate. I don’t care though because it was still perfect. That part is mostly a “to each his own” situation.

diced celery and onion

This is the ideal size for the veggies. The bacon doesn’t have to be cut this small – that part is up to you as well. It’s always best to try and find organic bacon, which they sell at Whole Foods. I guess the most ideal would be to find a seller at a farmer’s market who can tell you where his products come from.

diced bacon and carrots

This will smell so nice in your entire house, unless maybe you have a really big house and keep all the doors shut. Then at least your kitchen and probably living room will make people drool. I love a heaping portion of pasta, and as I have yet to find a local Italian restaurant that I really love in Orlando, I’ll just be experimenting on my own for the time being. I picked up a sesame seed baguette to have garlic bread on the side with this, which I think is a staple with spaghetti. So is sweet tea, but I don’t drink much of that lately due to the fact that I’d like to stay Type-2 Diabetes free for the foreseeable future.

bolognese simmering

A couple more notes on this: it’s best to find really good quality meat. We’re fortunate in that we have a great meat seller at our local farmer’s market. He sells 95% lean grass-fed free-range beef for a better price than we can find anywhere else. That’s what we used for this, but Jamie Oliver says that it can be really tasty to mix ground beef and ground pork.

Spaghetti Bolognese 3

Positives: you only need one pot and even though there’s several steps, they’re really easy to follow. This is another one that’s hard to mess up as long as you chop the veggies really tiny in the beginning.

Spaghette Bolognese 2

There’s about an hour and a half of down time during the making of this meal, so grab a good book and settle in since you’ll need to stick around to stir occasionally. My summer reading list has been A Dance With Dragons and Ender’s Game (which I want to finish before the movie comes out.) I’m really enjoying them both! What books have been your pool and beach reading this summer?

Spaghetti Bolognese

Adapted from Jamie’s Food Revolution


Makes 4-6 servings


2 slices of smoked bacon, finely sliced
2 medium onions
2 cloves garlic
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
olive oil for frying
2 heaped tsp dried oregano
1 lb ground beef, pork, or a mixture of the two
3 14-oz cans of diced tomatoes
4 pinches dried basil, separated
4 oz parmesan or asiago cheese (or both)
1 lb dried spaghetti or penne
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1) Finely chop the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery. Make sure it’s very finely diced, because if it’s not then the vegetables will soak up all the liquid. It will still taste good, but it won’t be very saucy.
2) Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a 5 quart sauce pan (if possible, if not then use the biggest one you have) on medium to high heat. Once it’s heated, add the sliced bacon and oregano. Stir until the bacon is lightly golden.
3) Add the vegetables and stir once a minute for about 7 to 10 minutes. The vegetables should be softened and lightly colored.
4) Stir in the ground meat and canned tomatoes. Fill one of the empty cans with water and add that to the mixture as well.
5) Add 2 pinches of basil and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and cover. Simmer with the lid slightly askew for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the sauce starts to look like it’s drying out, add about a quarter cup of water.
6) Remove the lid and cook for another 30 minutes,again keeping an eye on the sauce and adding 1/4 cup of water if necessary.
7) Prepare the pasta according to the directions on the box during step 6. Drain and return to the pan.
8) Remove the sauce from the heat. Grate the cheese and stir half of it into the sauce. Stir in the other 2 pinches of dried basil.
9) Give the sauce another good stir and taste test. Add more sea salt and freshly ground black pepper if necessary.
10) Add half of the bolognese sauce to the pasta and mix well. Divide the pasta between plates and top with more sauce. Sprinkle with cheese and drizzle with olive oil, then serve.

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  • Raani S.

    Not sure if my other comment went through, but this looks and sounds wonderful! What a perfect way to sneak in some extra veggies for my picky toddler who loves spaghetti!

    • Hannah Premaratne

      Hey good idea Raani! I didn’t even think of that!

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  • Emily Lainas

    That’s a very nice presentation Hannah! :)

    If you want to check the Greek traditional recipe for the spaghetti bolognese check here: Don’t forget to use translate since the recipe is in Greek.

    • Hannah Premaratne

      Thanks so much Emily! I will definitely check that out :)