Pasta Bolognaise

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

This is my go to quick dinner recipe. Well, I say quick, it does take some time. 

When writing this I did wonder if I had written up the recipe before. Well, I hadn’t written my recent bolognaise cooking, but had published a recipe back in March 2008. Looking at this post I realised I had posted a bolognese (note the different spelling) recipe in November 2022.

Those two recipes are very similar, but I have changed how I cook bolognaise, so here is my recent version of the bolognaise.

This serves four people.

      • 500g minced beef, I try and get 5% fat mince, otherwise the end result can be a bit greasy. If you do buy the mince with the higher fat content, I would suggest after browning the mince to drain some of the excess fat or oil from the pan before adding the vegetables.
      • Splash of olive oil
      • One onion, diced
      • One carrot finely diced. The carrot is there to add some veg to the dish as well as flavour.
      • One red pepper, diced, sometimes I only use half a red pepper.
      • Handful of mushrooms, chopped.
      • Splash of balsamic vinegar
      • Knorr chicken stock pot, sometimes I use the beef stock pot.
      • Beef stock cube.
      • Dried Italian herbs
      • Tin of tomatoes, puréed, sometimes I use a jar of passata.
      • Tomato purée.
      • Garlic purée

I usually use a large pan with a lid, for cooking this dish. I heat the pan add the splash of olive oil and then brown off the mince until it is all done. If you have excess fat in the pan then drain the cooked mince and discard the excess oil and fat, then add the mince back to the pan.

Add the onion, carrot, and pepper. You can add extra vegetables at this point, or extra pepper. I have sometimes added courgettes or sweet potato. If you really like it, you could add celery I guess, I wouldn’t.

After a few minutes add the mushrooms.

Once the onion is soft and cooked, add the tin of tomatoes, the herbs, the tomato purée and the balsamic vinegar.

Cook for at least 30 minutes on a low heat. The plan is for all the flavours to infuse and for the beef mince to be cooked and tender.

Serve with spaghetti or a pasta of your choice. Add freshly grated Parmesan to taste, garnish with freshly topped parsley.

I did a variation adding a topping of pan fried pancetta and mushrooms to my dish. Just to be different!

Prezzo Perfecto, well nearly

I’ve not been to Prezzo before, there isn’t one close by that I had seen, though I have since found one in Bristol, they occupy the old leadworks where the Firehouse Rotisserie was. However on a recent visit to York, we decided to have lunch there.

It did feel a little “posh” when we went in, and as a family I wasn’t sure we had made the right choice. The ambience, the decor and look of the place was very much a sophisticated place than a family run Italian restaurant. I shouldn’t have worried as the waiting staff immediately made us feel at ease, guided us to a table with a great view outside and provided colouring pencils and stuff to do for the children. Though my first impression was of a place not suitable for a family, they certainly provided a service that welcomed families.

Looking over the menu, the smallest in our family chose pizza, whilst the second youngest chose spaghetti bolognese.

My wife went with the Bianca Pizza for £9.95, I chose the Lobster and Crab Tortelli at £11.95. My eldest son was a little hesitant, at ten years old he often finds the children’s menu a little too young. I don’t think he’s forgiven us when we ordered a children’s meal for him recently and it came on a teddy bear plate! Having said that though, he still enjoy’s a kids lunchbox. In the end after lookng over the menu, he went with the Fusilli with Italian Sausage at £9.25. This is described as being made with red onion, garlic, fresh rocket and fresh chilli in a spicy tomato sauce.

The waiting staff were certainly taken aback when we placed our order and did say that the Fusilli pasta dish was quite spicy. However my son was happy with that and he does enjoy spicy food.

As we waited for our food and looked out the window we realised that this wasn’t an ideal location for a restaurant on the corner of a reasonably busy junction.

Prezzo in York

However what with fire engines and lots of buses passing by, the children loved it, and spent most of the waiting time looking out of the window. They didn’t have to wait long though, as the food arrived promptly and looked great.

I had ordered the Lobster and Crab Tortelli which came with baby spinach and red chilli in a creamy saffron sauce. I have decided that this year to make a noticeable effort to try out new things when eating out. This was certainly something very different, as I can’t recall ever ordering a filled pasta like this before.

Lobster and Crab Tortelli

This wasn’t an excessively large portion, but certainly wasn’t tiny either. For me it was about right. The pasta was cooked to perfection, not too soft with still some bite. I did feel that the filling lacked a little in flavour, however the sauce, which I felt might have been overpowering, was not in the least and complemented the pasta well. I did enjoy the addition of the baby spinach and thought the dish was delicious and very nice to eat. It was a great sized portion for lunch, but if you had a bigger appetite you might have wanted to add a salad, or had a starter.

My wife had gone for the Bianca Pizza which had on it goat’s cheese, grilled courgettes, baby sunblushed tomatoes, mozzarella, tomato. She had taken the light option (which increased the price) that takes half the dough of the Classic pizza and the pizza is then served with a mixed salad with a low calorie Italian dressing. It looked really nice and she said it was just right.

So what of the spicy Fusilli with Italian Sausage that my son had gone for? Well it was certainly hot and spicy, but it was scrummy and he finished the entire dish. I was expecting to see slices of sausage in the dish, but it was cooked with “lumps” of sausage, almost like a bolognese consistency. It looked great and I was allowed a quick taste. It certainly was spicy, but not too spicy to be unpleasant as can sometimes happen.

The children’s meals looked great, the pizza was enjoyed as was the spaghetti bolognese. The spaghetti bolognese was a proper bolognese and again I had a quick taste and it was really really nice. It was probably something I would order if I went to Prezzo again.

So why the “well nearly” in the blog post title?

Well alas the service let us down. It started off so well to begin with. They were welcoming and friendly and our food did arrive quite promptly. However after that it all went a little downhill. I am not sure why, but I think the main reason was that there wasn’t enough staff on. It was a Tuesday lunchtime and I think they anticipated that as it wasn’t a school holiday (schools in York broke up a week later than many parts of the country) they wouldn’t have too many customers. However though when we arrived there was only a few tables occupied, by the time we had finished eating our main courses the place was full and they were turning people away. As a result the two waiting staff appeared to be rushed off their feet. For us that meant it took a while to sort out the desert (just ice cream) and get the bill. The staff though did keep smiling.

So apart from the service issues towards the end of the meal, the food was delicious, it looked great and appeared to be made fresh to order. Really nicely done and now I have found where the Bristol branch is, we might go again.

Spaghetti Bolognaise

I am not a great fan of Spaghetti Bolognaise but other members of my family like it.

So when we were at Bottelino’s recently they ordered a dish of it.

They really enjoyed it and would order it again. I always think there is a little too much pasta sauce and not enough pasta.

Calamari and Calzone

Went to Bottelino’s again.

For starters I had the calamari again.

I do like calamari, this was okay, certainly not the best I have ever had, but also not the worse. Would be nice if they were a little more authentic. Next time I go I must have something different, though looking at another table I don’t think I will go for the mushrooms. Quite liked the look of the anti pasta.

They do a lunchtime special at my local branch where any pizza or pasta is just £4.95, so I decided to try the calzone.

It comprises a pizza base folded and stuffed in this instance with bolognaise sauce and mozzarella cheese.

I didn’t enjoy this as much as other pizzas I have had at Bottelino’s, it was a little too rich for me.

Overall not the best experience I have had, but didn’t put me off going again.

Bottelino’s is an independent chain of Italian restaurants in Bristol and North Somerset.


Today I ate the bolognaise sauce I made yesterday, always helps to leave it overnight, helps the flavour no end.

I have a simple recipe which works for me.

Take some minced beef and brown it off in the pan, vital to get some browning on the mince for flavour.

The next stage will ensure you have a delicious and not a greasy bolognaise  sauce, drain the mince in a sieve and then ensure there is minimal fat left in the pan.

Now add some chopped onion, red pepper and pancetta and cook until the onions are softened. Add back the drained mince and add a tin of finely chopped tomatoes.

I then add black pepper, balsamic vinegar and some tomato puree.

Cook for at least forty five minutes.

I served mine with spaghetti and grated parmesan.

Eat with a good Italian red wine.