Poor Woman’s Bolognaise

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This is a rather cheap and comforting dish that freezes very well. It’s great to defrost one of these for a quick pasta dinner when really busy. I normally make a huge batch of this and freeze them in little baggies. The ingredients aren’t expensive at all, especially if you use frozen beef. Not being a fan of mystery meat, I skipped the beef mince and bought frozen beef cubes which I then minced with my food processor.

Please note that this is hardly authentic at all. I doubt it’s anywhere close to what an Italian mama would make and I make no apologies for it. I like this recipe and I’m sharing it. A warning to carnivores: it’s not very meaty because it’s bulked up by the onion, carrot and celery. To me, it’s a good thing because I don’t have to worry about including veggies, though I normally do if I’m not pressed for time. If you’re in for a meat fest, easy! Just add more meat. Cooking is that simple. Uh huh.

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Ingredients:
1 head garlic
4 large onions
3 large carrots
5 sticks celery
2 tbsp oil
2 punnets button mushrooms, quartered
500 g minced beef
2 tbsp dried oregano or mixed herbs
1 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
½ cup red/white wine
2 cans stewed tomatoes, chopped

macaroni
cheese

Method:

  1. Peel and chop the garlic, onions, carrots and celery into tiny bits. For goodness sake, please use a food processor of some sort. I salute you if you manage to chop it all by hand.
  2. In a large pot, sweat the onions and garlic in the oil, followed by the carrot and celery. Don’t let any of it brown. Stir in the mushrooms.
  3. Turn up the heat and add the beef, stirring till coloured.
  4. Now add the herbs and spices, followed by the wine.
  5. Allow to bubble before adding the chopped tomatoes.
  6. Turn down the flame and simmer on low for one hour. Alternatively, put it in a slow cooker or thermopot for a couple of hours.
  7. To freeze, allow to cool and then pack into plastic baggies.
  8. To eat, cook macaroni till al dente, toss it in the pasta and season to taste.
  9. Top with cheese and then put under a grill to allow the cheese to melt.

Makes about 10 servings.

Quick Meals: Bacon, Mushroom, Chilli and Parsley Linguine

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This is another dish inspired both by hunger and by the need to clear out stuff from the fridge! I had a few button mushrooms that were getting past their prime, lots of curly parsley and a red chilli that was slowly drying up in the fridge. Being very hungry, I only had time enough to boil pasta and make sure the sauce was ready by the time it was al dente.

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Ingredients:

linguine
2 rashers streaky bacon, cut into strips
3 mushrooms, sliced
½ cup curly parsley, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped coarsely

Method:

  1. Boil the pasta in plenty of salted water till al dente.
  2. In the mean time, fry the bacon in a non-stick pan till browned. Add the mushrooms and keep frying till brown.
  3. Toss in the chilli and cook for half a minute, then add the parsley and stir for a few seconds.
  4. The pasta should be cooked by now. Toss in the pasta and stir till pasta is well coated. Add a bit of cooking liquid if it’s too dry. Alternatively you can add oil if you’re not watching your weight.
  5. Season to taste. Hurry up and eat already!

Serves 1.

Note: If you prefer, either leave out the chilli or remove the seeds to make it less hot.