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Friday, 17 May 2013

Freezer Meals - Make Ahead Ultra Rich Bolognese

Lately I have been so tired by the time I get home from work, that I can't even begin to think about what to make for dinner. I am blessed to not have many pregnancy side effects, but one that I do get is overwhelming tiredness. I actually find I often need to have a nap after work, I am that exhausted.

Last time I was pregnant, it meant my Husband and I resorted to lots of take away. This time I want to ensure that I am prepared and have a few easy meals on standby. I am going to share with you a series of freezer meals that are great to make ahead, freeze well and taste just as good as made fresh.

One freezer staple I have is ready made bolognese sauce. If you have some of that in the freezer you have the main ingredient for many fast meals. Here are a few ideas I can think of right now

- Spaghetti Bolognese
- Maltese Pasta Bake (Recipe coming soon)
- Chilli Con Carne (Add a can od beans and some chilli)
- Baked Zucchini  (Zucchini filled with a bolognese mixture)
- Bolobnese Bread Bowls

That is only a few. It really is very versatile.

Everyone has their own go to recipe. I decided I would share mine. It is one that I have perfected over the years. I like my sauce to be very rich, thick and tomatoey.

I usually just make this recipe 'on instinct' so it was a bit unusual to have to stop and take notes so I could tell you how much of everything I use.

This recipe makes a large pot. I usually divide it into about 4 to freeze. Adding the celery and carrot really stretches the sauce, whilst also making it healthier. It also enhances the flavour.


750g Minced meat ( I like to use a 1/2 mix if low fat beef mince and pork mince)
2 stalks celery, leaves removed
1 large carrot
1 large onion  ( I used red onion in the photos, but i usually use brown)
2 heaped teaspoons minced garlic
1 700g jar passata
1 400g tin diced tomato
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
1/4 cup Wine ( I use whatever i have on hand, white or red, doesn't matter. If you have no wine use water)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar (Or more to taste)
Olive Oil
Fresh Basil (see notes)

All the ingredients ready and prepped.

Finely dice the onion and celery. Grate the carrot (don't worry aout peeling it, the skin has extra fibre). Heat a large pot on the stove and add some oil. Once hot, add in the onion, celery and carrot. Cook this until the vegetables have softened. Set aside in another bowl.

Cooking the vegetables 

Add a little more oil to the pot and let it heat up, then add the mince. Brown the mince, ensuring that there are no cunks. Once mostly browned add in the minced garlic. Then add the vegetables mix back in. Give it all a stir and until all the minced has browned.

Browning the mince

Add in the passata, tin tomato, tomato paste and salt and pepper. I use the wine to 'wash' the inside of the passata jar and pour that in. Give it all a good stir.

    Washing the jar out with wine                                  All the tomatoey goodness

Put the pot on the back heat and turn it down to a simmer. I now let it cook for at least an hour, preferably two. I cook it until the sauce is really thick. I give it a stir every now and then.

Time to simmer down

Once the sauce is near the end of coking (About 10 - 15 minutes to the end) I will taste the sauce and add some sugar. I will usually dd 1 teaspoon, taste, then add moe if needed. I then will add more salt and  pepper to taste. Add the finely chopped basil. ( See notes).

So thick you can run a path through it

You now have a rich, luxurious sauce that you can eat right away, or let it cool and then put into freezer containers. I put mine into sandwich sized snap lock bags. and flatten it.


You use the sugar to counteract the acidity in the tomato. I always add sugar before I add more salt, because I often find that you need to balance the acidity before you make it saltier, or you can tend to over salt it.

I use fresh basil if i have it at home, otherwise i use dried basil or parsley. I do not use Italian herb mixture because i find the thyme in that is often too overwhelming. I also add in 2 - 3 bay leaves if I have them, and pull them out before serving.

Feel free to add some extra vegetables if you want to. I will often finely grate in some pumpkin, sweet potato or zucchini if I have some in the fridge. Mushrooms are a great addition.

If you want a smoother sauce, or have fussy eaters with eagle eyes that may spot the veggies, i sometimes give my sauce a very quick blend with a stick blender. I really only give it 2 - 3 quick bursts. It gives it more of a 'restaurant' texture.

This batch of bolognese made 3 packets of sauce (approx 1 1/2 cups each) and 2 pasta bake dishes.

1 comment :

  1. Thanks - Great idea, perfect for winter.
    Look forward to more recipes soon.