Spag-Bol with hidden veg in 27 minutes

A classic recipe with extra veg and secret tricks for speediness

The Mum Reviews says:

The email with my mate’s recipe here came in literally as I was sitting down to eat a spag bol made by mixing browned mince with a shop-bought jar of sauce. It was pretty good and tasty, tbh, but I can’t wait to try this recipe, which sounds just as fast and (almost) as easy. I love that it has spinach in it for extra hidden veg.

Ok, so I timed myself for this one, because I know there are days when even a 30-minute meal seems like too long. But this one is totally worth it, and should feed a family of 4 for two days! I use frozen veg where possible, so 30 minutes is plenty of time because you don’t need to spend time chopping. If you prefer to use fresh veg, you could also speed things up by using a food processor to chop the veg.

I find a lot of spaghetti sauces too sweet and have too much tomato, so this is a really light alternative with a lot of flavour.

 TOP TIP: If you use angel hair pasta (this is like thinner spaghetti, called spaghettini or capellini in the UK), you can use a much smaller pot and less water, which is much quicker to boil. You can break the pasta in half and add in two or three handfuls to the water, there’s plenty of room, and it only takes 3-5 minutes to finish! I usually use half a box at a time.

You’ll need:

  • 500g/1lb mince/ground beef OR (for a richer flavour) ground sausage/sausage meat
  • 1 cube beef or chicken stock as per beef or sausage, or 1 tsp concentrated stock (without the water!)
  • 1 cup/130g chopped white onion, or about 1 medium onion (Frozen is quickest)
  • 2 tsp green/basil pesto
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried mixed Italian spices (that’s rosemary, thyme & basil if you want to mix your own)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic OR one clove (buy it in a jar, tube or dried to save time)
  • One medium carrot OR 1/2c./60g pre-shredded carrot
  • 2 tins chopped tomato (in the US that’s petite diced or crushed)
  • 1/2 cup / 60g frozen chopped spinach (or 1 small bag fresh baby spinach)
  • 1 tsp tomato paste (optional)
  • fresh basil (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • 225g dry pasta

The Method

I usually get the frozen onions into the pan while it heats up to high temperature, then fill the little pot with water for the pasta and turn that on high to start boiling. If you live in the UK, you will obvs boil your water in the kettle before putting it in the pan.

In a wide pan or pot, brown together the meat, stock, onion, oregano, spices, garlic and pesto. You don’t need to add extra oil as this will come from the pesto. Mix the ingredients together but then only stir occasionally to deeply brown.

Spag Bol cookingTo the browned meat, add the tins of tomato, 1 tin of water, carrot, spinach and tomato paste. Allow the sauce to reduce at a med/low temperature, the lid slightly askew to stop splatters but still allow the reduction.

At this point, the water should have come to the boil and you may have added your pasta. While the sauce reduces by about a third, stir and drain your pasta; the thin stuff only takes 3-5 minutes, so don’t let it get over done. Rinse and drain the pasta while the sauce bubbles off a bit more water, and now you may want to roughly chop a bit of fresh basil.

Be sure to taste test your sauce and add salt, pepper and a handful of roughly chopped basil, to taste.

Reduce heat and allow to simmer until the sauce is your desired consistency. We usually use gluten free pasta, so the taste of the pasta is improved if I add it to the sauce whilst it’s still a bit watery.

Once you’ve drained your chosen pasta (my kids just love angel hair and it’s easy to cut into tiny bits for little ones!), I always find it’s best to toss the pasta into the sauce before serving, but either way, it’s delicious! They never even notice all the veg!

TOP TIP: For younger children, allow the sauce to simmer longer to soften the carrots, and try crushed tomato to avoid ‘bits’. I’ve also been known to add a pinch of caster sugar to reduce the acidity of the tomato for youngsters who like it sweet.

5 thoughts on “Spag-Bol with hidden veg in 27 minutes”

  1. I quite often add sugar or golden syrup to tinned tomato dishes or replace one tin of tomatoes with tomato soup. A splash of dark Soy sauce can add a nice savoury touch too.


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