For the first 18 years of my life, my parents would ask me what I wanted to eat for my special birthday dinner. And every year, I kid you not, I would request the following; spaghetti bolognese (don’t scrimp on the cheddar cheese) accompanied by a HUGE caesar salad, buttery garlic bread and a cold glass of milk. No ice-cream cake, no fairy bread or chocolate – just sign me up for some of that home-cooked spag-bowl goodness. I still can’t explain the glass of milk, but luckily I seem to have outgrown that particular habit!
Spaghetti bolognese on the other hand still well and truly holds a place in my heart – it’s my ultimate comfort food – and is something I prepare on a slow Sunday every now and again to make me feel particularly happy. Since becoming a *cough* adult *cough*, and recovering from consuming my own weight in cheddar cheese, I now try at every opportunity to up the nutritional value of most meals. I look at ways to lighten them up, and to remove anything processed – like the refined wheat flour found in white bread and pasta.
During the refining process of wheat flour, the nutritious outer bran layer and inner germ layer are removed, leaving only the starchy carbohydrate. The grain is no longer ‘whole,’ and this process also removes the fibre, vitamins and minerals from the grain – basically all the good stuff! To me, that seems pretty silly. An awesome idea to add more whole foods and veggies to your dish, is to swap out your processed pasta for healthy zucchini noodles. All you need is a food spiralizer or mandolin which you can buy from most supermarkets or specialty kitchen stores, a couple of zucchinis, a chopping board and some old fashion enthusiasm. It’s dead easy. If you don’t have a fancy tool, just get a sharp knife and slice the zucchini into symmetrical noodles, as thin as you can.
Once peeled, toss your noodles in a frying pan with a little olive oil to heat them up, and use as you would traditional pasta. I love this idea as it means I can enjoy my favourite comfort food on a regular basis – without the pasta guilt and bloat that inevitably follows. I use the flesh and the skin of the zucchini, but perhaps for your first time try only using the flesh (the skin has a crunchy, less pasta-like taste to it.)
My bolognese sauce of choice varies according to company. If I’m on my own I’ll put together a vegetarian sauce along the lines of Two Spoons Vegetarian Bolognese or if I’m cooking with my boyfriend we usually whip up Jamie Oliver’s recipe (which is amazing). Mandatory speaking like Jamie whilst cooking, and liberally chopping and throwing ingredients around the kitchen.
Top with heavenly Thai basil and some good quality parmesan cheese if you feel the urge.