Kids 5-a-day Bolognese

Prep Time:15 mins, Cook Time: 1 hr , Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins

November 8, 2013

Kids 5-a-day Bolognese

I seem to make Spag Bol pretty often these days. A tad boring I know, but my kids can’t get enough of it and I do throw in a barrage of finely chopped (aka sneakily hidden) veggies to make it a healthier dinner. Now there’s spag bol and there’s spag bol. Pre-kids I would have scoffed at such a recipe as this. I once was a firm believer in the classic onion/carrot/celery/garlic followed by a pork and beef mix, plenty of white wine and good quality tommies, a few lardons, plenty of fresh herbs, maybe an anchovy or two and a parmesan rind etc and cooked down for hours. Literally hours. But since the on-set of kids and the need to fill little tummies quickly with a more nutrient dense mix this is what I end up making more often than not now.

Don’t get me wrong it’s still very tasty with oodles of meaty bolognese flavour which the kids adore, but it’s hardly a classic recipe!. And it is ludicrously economical, making a little meat go a very long way. I wouldn’t advise skimping on the quality of the meat though, if you can, get your mince made up in front of you by a butcher. At least you’ll then know exactly what’s in there.

You really can throw a huge variety of veggies in a bolognese. Carrots, pumpkin, butternut, celery, sweet potato, peppers, mushrooms, green or french beans, swede, parsnips, spinach, chard, peas, sweetcorn, aubergine, courgettes, leeks, cauliflower all work perfectly! To be honest any veggie does. I’ve even added potatoes and chick peas in the past. I say just be brave and chuck it in, and clear your fridge in doing so! If your kids aren’t too keen on anything, just dice it more finely. Or for ease, speed and a very fine dice food processors were made for this sort of action. I virtually always use mine when making bolognese, chillies, shepherds pies etc.

This is a great recipe for the veggie adverse. Believe me my kids have gone through some dreadful phases of veggie rejection but have always happily eaten my bolognese. I’ve generally found that if the overall flavour is a good one, and the veggies are cut too finely to pick out, most kids aren’t all that fussy any more!. Thankfully my two are both a good deal better at veggie eating these days. And sous chef Jacques always lends a hand with the veggie chopping himself now.

I tend to make the sauce in large batches so I can freeze the leftovers in tupperware portion pots to bring out for a quick no brainer dinner when I’m short on time. Which is pretty often! If you don’t want to make so much just half the quantity.

Being an exceptionally frugal sauce I’m entering my post to Credit Crunch Munch, an event started by Camilla and Helen and this month guest hosted by Sarah of Dinner with Crayons.


The Good Stuff:

Whatever veggies you choose to add!

Great For:

Babies 9-12 months (blitz in a processor or with a stick blender before serving), Toddlers, Pre-Schoolers, Big Kids, Family Dinners, Hiding Veggies, The Veggie Adverse, Freezing, Making Ahead, Mid-Week Wonders


Enough for 10 to 12 small portions. Freeze any extras in portion size tupperware pots.

Special Equipment:

Just a very large lidded saucepan!

Kids 5-a-day Bolognese

Ingredients Prep Time:15 mins, Cook Time: 1 hr , Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

600 to 700g mixed veggies, finely chopped/diced

400g good quality minced beef

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes or 800g fresh chopped tommies

1 dessertspoon tomato puree

1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon worcester sauce

black pepper

1) Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or casserole. Fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes until softened, stirring regularly.

2) Now add the veggies that you’ve selected. Leave out any quick-to-cook veggies like peas, spinach, sweetcorn, chard, mushrooms or courgette until later in the cooking process. Cook for about 5 minutes more, stirring regularly.

3) Add the minced beef and cook until browned.

4) Throw in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, oregano, bay leaves, worcester sauce and a little freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat to a minimum, put on a lid and let the sauce bubble away for an hour. If your using veggies that take less time to cook don’t forget to add them about half way through the cooking time. Stir from time to time, adding a little water if the sauce needs it.

And it’s as easy as that!. One large vat of healthy and delicious bolognese sauce to fill those little tums MADE.

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2 thoughts on “Kids 5-a-day Bolognese

  1. Sarah, Maison Cupcake

    That looks marvellous way to get veggies into kids. Mine won’t eat beans or peas but I manage to sneak a few in if I give some bolognaise a quick whoosh with the stick blender in one corner of the saucepan for his portion! Thanks for entering CCM.



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