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Sexy Spaghetti Bolognese (gluten & dairy free!)

Sexy Spaghetti Bolognese (gluten & dairy free!)

Spag Bol, as it’s commonly known here, is a classic.  It’s simple, and everyone loves it.  I’ve often heard Gino D’acampo say that in Italy, you won’t have spaghetti with bolognese – but since I can’t seem to get gluten free tagliatelle, or fettuccine, gluten free spaghetti will have to do.  And it does, quite nicely!

Truthfully, I had never eaten spaghetti bolognese until I met B  7 years ago, and then, it meant frying some beef mince and onion, stirring in a jar of sauce, and putting it on some spaghetti.  If that sounds like your version, next time you’re at the shop, instead of buying that jar of ‘sauce’, just pick up a carton of tomato passata.  It couldn’t be simpler to make it from scratch, and surely far cheaper than buying a gluten free sauce.

I’ve been off work for a little while with a bad foot, so I seem to have watched a lot of daytime TV, and have picked up some tips too.  Gino alwas says that you never put the sauce on top of the pasta; you always put the pasta into the sauce. This might well be common knowledge, but it’s not the way I used to do it, and it seems to make on hell of a difference!  Anyway, I know most people have their own recipe for this family favourite, but incase, like me, you’d always made it using a jar of sauce, here’s my ridiculously easy yet amazingly tasty version of ‘Spag Bol”…

Ingredients:

250g lean beef mince

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

4 mini portabella mushrooms, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and pressed / finely chopped

500g tomato passata (sieved tomatoes, from a carton)

1 whole dried bay leaf

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp each of dried oregano, dried basil, dried parsley

250g gluten free spaghetti (I used corn)

Method:

  • In a large saucepan, add about 1tbsp olive oil to the mince, and break it up with the back of a spoon, while on a low heat
  • Once the mince has started to brown, add the onion, mushrooms and red pepper
  • Once the veggies have softened and the mince is pretty much cooked, add the garlic and stir through
  • Now add the passata, and turn up the heat to bring it to a simmer
  • Mix in the black pepper, oregano and basil, and bury the bayleaf, whole, in the sauce
  • Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes (add the parsley in for the last 5 minutes of cooking)
  • Meanwhile put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta (I don’t salt my water; I don’t see the need, but do so if you must)
  • Put your spaghetti into the boiling water, and cook for 8-9 minutes, until it is ‘al dente’ – cooked but firm
  • Drain your spaghetti, and put it into your bolognese sauce, mixing well
  • Give your spaghetti about a minute to soak up some sauce, then serve and enjoy!

Easy! So that’s how I do it.  I get 3 good servings from this, so it feeds me and B, with leftovers for his lunch tomorrow.  I use dried herbs, but if you have fresh to hand then use those instead.  One day I’ll have a little herb garden up and running, but until then, my dried herbs will serve me well.

Homemade Vegetable Lasagne (gluten & lactose free)

Homemade vegetable lasagne, just as it should be; hot, oozy and messy, with garden peas & chunky chips!

I don’t have the inclination to let it rest long enough for the layers to firm up properly. That’s just because I’m greedy and by the time it comes out of the oven I want to just put my face in the lasagne pan.  This is a vegetable lasagne without any weird mycro-protein-whatever-textured-stuff… just vegetables & tomatoes, with a homemade white sauce (made with lactofree milk & cheese, and gluten free flour).  I have been known to make my own pasta sheets for this but tonight I used sainsburys gluten free pasta sheets (dry).

Ingredients:

  • for the vegetables…

2 small yellow onions, finely chopped

1 small red pepper, finely chopped

2 good sized courgettes, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced / finely chopped

500g carton of tomato passata (sieved tomatoes)

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp basil

1/4 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp mustard powder

  • for the sauce:

20g plain gluten free flour

200ml stock (COLD!)

200ml lactofree milk

knob of ‘butter’ (or dairy free spread)

100g grated lactofree cheese

black pepper & parsley to taste

  • also…

250g dry lasagne sheets

100g grated lactofree cheese for the top

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and start with the vegetables…

  • in a large pan, heat the onion and pepper in a little oil until they start to soften
  • add the courgette and heat for around 5 minutes until it softens
  • add the garlic, stir through, and then add the passata
  • stir in the basil, mustard and oregano, and add the whole bay leaf
  • bring this to a simmer and heat for 10 or 15 minutes before turning off the heat

Meanwhile sort the cheese sauce…

  • add a little milk to the flour and whisk until there are no lumps, then add the rest of the milk
  • mix in the stock, and pour it all into a cold saucepan
  • add the butter to the pan, and heat very gently, whisking, until it comes to a simmer
  • stir in the cheese before adding the parsley and black pepper to taste
  • keep it on a gentle heat, and keep an eye on it while you begin to assemble the lasagne

To layer the lasagne…

  • oil / grease a lasagne pan (24x28cm works well) and cover the bottom with the pasta sheets
  • onto that add a layer of vegetables, then a little cheese sauce on top of that
  • repeat the pasta – vegetables – cheese sauce layering until you come to your last sheets of pasta
  • top the final sheets of pasta with a thick layer of cheese sauce, then sprinkle over the grated cheese
  • pop this in the oven for 30 minutes

Once it’s cooked and the cheese is golden brown, take it out of the oven, and ideally let it rest for 20 minutes – this will allow the layers to firm up and it will be easier to cut and serve… me, I don’t have the patience for that, but if you’re cooking for guests you might want to.

This is one of those dishes that’s so tasty and satisfying, it really doesn’t need meat (or ‘fake’ soya-protein-pretend-meat).  This recipe might come in useful to any omnivores looking to give up meat for lent! :)

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