Thursday, April 24, 2014

thursday recipe: spag bol with a twist

During the school holidays River and Pete headed out for an early morning bike ride that didn't go as planned. They arrived home shaken and sorry, a caring passerby had given them a lift home as River had come off his bike hard. He went flying down a hill that in the past he had walked his bike down but decided that day was the day he would give it a go. Fortunately he escaped serious injury despite the fact that he went over his bike, became airborne and landed with a thud. He walked away with a blackened bruised thumb nail, sore back and elbow accompanied with a confidence crash when it comes to getting back on the bike.

I let the shock subside and in the afternoon took River to get checked over by our wonderful family chiropractor Carmel Whelan who has been treating all of us since River was six weeks old. On the way home from visiting Carmel, who gave River the ok after sending us for an xray of his elbow (just to be sure), we stopped in at Provincia a newish local foodstore/deli and picked up ingredients for a pasta dinner, quick(ish), easy, a dish the whole family enjoys = comfort food.

If you are a bit tired of your spag bol recipe I thought you might enjoy this one. I always grate zucchini and carrot into my version, yes to get more veggies into everyone but also because the carrot provides a nice sweetness. The twist in this version comes from our friend Robin, we enjoyed dinner at her house one night and had spaghetti bolognaise with a delicious flavour I note that I wasn't quite expecting. I asked Robin what it was and she anise. A little trick she picked up off her brother-in-law. (correct me in the comments Robin if you're reading and I got brother-in-law part wrong!) Whoever came up with the idea of adding star anise it is a good one. I think you'll enjoy it too. Xx

Spaghetti bolognaise with star anise


1 tbsp butter or ghee
500g organic mince beef
1 brown onion finely chopped
2-4 garlic cloves depending on clove size and your flavour preference, crushed
1 tin diced tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup water or stock
salt + pepper to taste
3 teaspoons Italian dried herbs
1 bay leaf
1 medium carrot, finely grated
1 medium zucchini, finely grated
1 whole star anise
pasta of your choice or zucchini spirals

I added fresh spring onions and parsley from our garden to the top of this bowl

To make:

Heat butter or ghee in a large heavy based saucepan over medium heat, gently fry onion til transparent.
Add meat and garlic, cook until meat is brown.
Add all other ingredients, bring to boil then reduce to simmer for 40 minutes (an hour if you have time).
Cook pasta towards end of sauce cooking time.

Dinner is ready! (Watch out for the star anise and remove it, not that pleasant to chomp into)


  1. I also take my kiddies to Carmel she is fantastic. Spag bol is on the menu tonight think I might give this version a go. Thank you.

    1. I can't rave about Carmel enough Rachel she is a real gem in our community. I hope you enjoyed your dinner! x

  2. Poor River! I remember doing something similar at his age! I'll definitely be trying this spag bol (although we always do lentils instead of meat as I have a strong aversion to mince!). Have a great long weekend. Luna. xx

    1. Thanks Luna. Children bounce back remarkably quickly! I like the sound of a lentil version, and even though I eat mince I can still totally understand your aversion! I am so looking forward to the long weekend, hope yours is a good one too. X


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