This sauce has so many uses:
- on its own with bread
- mixed through spaghetti or other pasta (choose wholemeal if you can)
- top with mashed potato for a cottage pie
- turn it into a lasagne
- top with savoury crumble
- spoon over rice (again, brown is better)
- add kidney beans and chilli powder for a quick chilli con carne
- have it over a jacket potato
- stuff it into peppers and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes until soft and cooked through
- pile it onto tacos or tortilla and top with cheese
Serves 4 – 8, depending on whether you add the lentils and how many vegetables you include
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
500g beef mince
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried mixed Italian herbs, or any of: oregano, marjoram, basil
Then you can add any or all of the below – including pulses makes this dinner healthier and makes the meat go further
200g yellow split peas or lentils, rinsed: if you add these, you’ll need a second tin of tomatoes
Frozen or tinned peas, beans, carrots or sweetcorn
1 cup of red wine
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon Marmite or 1 crumbled stock cube or 1 teaspoon bouillon – just add one of these or it’ll be too strong and salty
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or brown sauce
1 or two peppers, chopped
250g fresh spinach, or 100g frozen
a leek, finely sliced
250g mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon – this might sound odd, but cinnamon brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes
3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
- Get a large saucepan good and hot, then tip in the mince (you won’t need to put any oil in first, the mince will release its fats quickly). Vigorously separate it out with a wooden spoon, stirring all the time so there aren’t any big lumps left. Cook it until it’s browned, then tip it out onto a plate, keeping the fats and juices in the pan.
- If you’re adding mushrooms, fry them off in the pan now until browned, then tip out onto the plate with the mince. You’ll then need to add a little oil to the pan. Otherwise skip straight to step 3.
- Turn the heat right down, then add the onion (and sliced pepper and leek) and sweat until soft. Add the crushed garlic and cook for another minute, then tip in the mince (and mushrooms and grated carrot) and stir.
- If you’re adding lentils, tip them in now.
- If you’re using red wine, now’s the time to pour it into the saucepan, turn up the heat and reduce it down by half. Otherwise tip in the tomatoes along with half a tin of water, or enough to cover the mince (and lentils) and bring to the boil.
- Add whatever flavourings you have around: tomato, brown or Worcestershire sauce; herbs; cinnamon; Marmite, stock or bouillon; tomato puree; soy sauce.
- Simmer until the sauce is thick and rich (and the lentils are soft).
- In the final couple of minutes, add frozen or tinned vegetables and spinach and stir through until hot.