Thursday, September 12, 2013

Paleo Spaghetti Bolognese

How does a Paleo diet consume spaghetti you ask? By making zucchini pasta! I've been following a lot of Paleo and clean eating blogs, Facebook pages and Instagramers lately and found a few recipes to try. A lot of them ask for ingredients that you'd normally not have in your cupboard (well I didn't anyway) so you do have to visit a health food store or the health food aisle of your local supermarket to stock up your shelves with the latest organic or gluten free, dairy free, sugar free alternatives. I tend not to be so strict on being 100% Paleo as some things you can't find or are just too damn expensive for my liking. (Yes I'm a cheap Asian).

Anyway, I thought I'd give Eat Drink Paleo's recipe a try and found it to be quite easy to make. I didn't include the red wine or port/sherry because I didn't have any and didn't want to buy a whole bottle to use just a few hundred mL. I aslo used 50/50 beef/pork mince because Coles sells 500g mince packets. I added an extra can of tomatoes to make up for the lack of wine and port. Also I used 2 celery sticks and 2 carrots, similar to all the Jamie Oliver recipes. I simmered it for about 2 hours.

For the sauce:
- 700 grams grass-fed beef mince (go for normal fat to meat ratio, no need to get extra-lean)
- 300 grams free-range pork mince
- 4 tbsp virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 large brown onion, peeled and diced finely
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 1 celery stalk, finely diced
- 4-5 pancetta slices, finely diced
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 800 grams tomato passata or diced canned tomatoes (2 cans)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 30 ml port or dry sherry
- 2 tbsp GF Worcestershire sauce
- 2 1/2 tsp celtic sea salt or sea salt
- 2/3 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2/3 tsp red chili flakes
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 packed tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp butter
For zucchetini:
- 4 medium green zucchinis
- 1 lemon, zest only
- A good pinch of sea or celtic salt
- 1 tbsp ghee or olive oil

- Heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan. Sauté onion, pancetta, carrots and celery on medium heat until golden and translucent. Remove to a bowl.
- Add mince to the saucepan with another tablespoon of olive oil. Break the mince into small pieces using a potato masher. Fry on high heat until the colour changes from red to desaturated brown. Stir frequently to make sure all bits are cooked evenly. This should take about 8-10 minutes.

- Keeping the heat high, add red wine, sautéed vegetables, garlic, pepper, paprika, star anise, cinnamon, thyme, bay leaves, salt, chili, nutmeg, Worcestershire sauce and port. Stir through and cook for 2-3 minutes before adding tomato passata and tomato paste.
- Bring to boil then turn the heat down to simmering temperature. Cook on low heat covered for two hours. Stir through every 20 minutes or so. 

- After two hours, remove the lid and cook uncovered on low heat for another hour, stir occasionally. Finally, bring the heat up to medium-high, add a dollop of butter and  let the sauce bubble away for 5 minutes to complete the thickening of the sauce.

- In the final 30 minutes of sauce cooking,  prepare zucchetini. Cut zucchinis into thin slices going lengthways first and then cut those into fettuccine thick strips.
- Heat a frying pan with 1 tablespoon of ghee or olive oil to sizzling hot. Toss zucchini strips with lemon zest and sea salt and sauté on high heat for a minute. You want to warm and soften the zucchini strips quickly so they keep a slightly crunchy, ‘al dente’ texture. If you cook them for too long you’ll end up with soggy vegetables.
- Serve zucchini strips with Bolognese ragu sauce and some fresh thyme and lemon zest scattered on top. Grate some Parmesan or Pecorino if you eat dairy.

I just chucked the meat into the same pot after I cooked the veges for a few minutes. I like one-pot recipes, means less washing up! I prefer to simmer with the lid off as well. As with all recipes, you can put your own twist on it.

The Bolognese sauce turned out well. So well that my mum wanted some when I showed her the photo. So at least it looks nice... haha.

With the zucchini pasta, I did some research on the best way to make it spaghetti-like. There are some fancy utensils out there for cutting the zucchini into thin stringy strips. One suggested grating it long ways, which I tried but it produced a lot of water. Second time I just cut it into thin strips, which was less watery and more "pasta" like.

Check out Irey's website: there's lots of great recipes and info on eating a paleo diet.

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