Rich and Meaty Bolognese – ‘spag bol’ for less than 200 calories

Rich and Meaty bolognese

Rich and Meaty Bolognese, a low-cal take on ‘spag bol’ from the Hairy Dieters, is a brilliant dish which is only 200 calories per portion IF you swap pasta for cabbage. ‘Why would I want to do that?’ you may ask. Well, it depends how serious you are taking your diet and furthermore, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might struggle to get your hands on some pasta right now!

I made this with some well-seasoned cabbage recently and it wasn’t that bad. In fact, I’ll go a step further, I enjoyed it, even if cabbage does make you fart ;-). But it’s a small sacrifice to make to eat something as good and as healthy as this. If you’re wondering what to do with leftover cabbage, give Sticky Chicken a go and use the cabbage to make some home-made coleslaw. You won’t look back!

Recipe: Rich and Meaty Bolognese

Calories: 175 calories per portion (without pasta!)

Serves: 6

Book: Hairy Dieters – How to Love Food and Lose Weight

Prep time: Approx 25 minutes

Cooking time: Approx 1 hour and 10 minutes

Ingredients: 400g lean minced beef, 2 medium onions (chopped), 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped), 1 celery stick (finely diced), I medium courgette (diced), 175g small chestnut mushrooms (wiped and sliced), 150ml red wine or extra stock, 400g can of chopped tomatoes, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 500ml beef stock (made with 1 beef stock cube), 1 heaped tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional), 2 bay leaves, 1 tbsp cornflour, 1 tbsp cold water, flaked sea salt, ground black pepper

Cost per portion: Approx £1.29 per portion (without pasta or cabbage)

Method: Place a large non-stick saucepan or casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the mince with the onions, garlic, celery, courgette and mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes until lightly coloured. Use a couple of wooden spoons to break up the meat as it cooks.

Stir in the wine, tomatoes, tomato puree, beef stock, oregano, dried chilli, if using, and bay leaves. Season with a good pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover loosely and simmer the sauce gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the lid and cook for a further 20-30 minutes uncovered until the meat is tender and the sauce is thick. Don’t forget to stir, especially towards the end of the cooking time when the sauce will be getting thicker.

Mix the cornflour with the cold water to make a thin paste. Stir into the Bolognese and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring. Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve with a small portion of pasta (about 50g uncooked). Alternatively, if you want to go the cabbage route, lightly boil some finely shredded white cabbage and serve with the sauce. Add a few shavings of Parmesan cheese if you like, but don’t forget that every bit adds calories.


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