Beef Ragu and Courgetti
The new way to spaghetti bolognese! Rather than heavy, glutenous pasta, we use ‘courgetti’ – long strands of raw courgette cut using a spiralizer or julienne peeler. If you don’t have one of these, try a vegetable peeler for very wide ribbons, pappardelle-style. For our beef ragu, we like to squeeze in as many vegetables as possible to make the meaty sauce go further, even using courgettes again and carrots for added sweetness. It’s also a good place to hide a nutritious chicken liver – finely dice and cook the liver with the sauce for a rich flavour.
- 2 tbsp ghee or butter
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, diced
- 2 dried bay leaves
- ¼ tsp mixed spice (or try a tiny pinch of nutmeg)
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 400 g minced beef (chuck or braising steak and don’t go for lean meat)
- a large glass of red wine, about 250 g
- 14 large tomatoes, roughly chopped, or 2 tins of chopped tomatoes or 800 g passata
- 2 tsp tomato purée
- 200 ml bone broth or water (you won’t need as much if using chopped tomatoes)
- 2 large carrots, finely grated
- 1 large handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 4 large courgettes
- sea salt and black pepper
- TO SERVE
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2 handfuls of grated Parmesan
1 Heat the ghee or butter in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion over a low heat until softened, but not browned (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic, bay leaves, mixed spice, oregano (and any other herbs that you choose) and fry for a further 2 minutes.
2 Increase the heat and add the beef to the pan, using a wooden spatula to break it up as you cook.
3 After 5 minutes, pour in the red wine and stir to deglaze the pan, then add the tomatoes, tomato purée and bone broth or water.
4 Bring to the boil, cover with a lid, leaving the lid just slightly off, then reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2½ hours until rich and thickened. It is even better after 3–4 hours – keep an eye on it and add more liquid if needed.
5 Add the grated carrots 15 minutes before the end of cooking.Turn up the heat to a medium simmer and season with sea salt, a good grind of pepper and the fresh parsley.
6 Meanwhile, use a spiralizer or julienne peeler to make the courgetti. Or use a regular vegetable peeler to slice the courgettes lengthways into very wide ribbons,which you can then slice in half.You might want to cut the long strands in half to make them easier to eat.
7 Soften the courgetti in a pan with a little butter, stirring over a low heat for 3 minutes. Alternatively, save washing up another pan by just running some of the hot sauce through your spirals – the heat and salt in the sauce will soften them.
8 Drizzle each bowl of ragu and courgetti with extra virgin olive oil and serve with Parmesan for everyone to help themselves.