Bolognese Pasta Boats

Here is a different take to a traditional Spaghetti Bolognese. This time I’ve used “Conchiglioni Giganti” pasta, in other words jumbo shell pasta, and turned them into pasta boats for my kids. Guess what? They absolutely loved them.

We all eat with our eyes first so why not make your kids’ plates a little more fun? In most cases fussy eaters respond better to fun food as opposed to a simple plate filled with food. I know my ones do. I have 2 fussy eaters and the older one used to be super fussy from 6 months throughout to about 4 years old . He wouldn’t eat any visible vegetables. That’s when I started to add at least 3 types of vegetables in sauces and food, and bolognese sauce is a great one to add more than 3 vegetables.

I’m sharing my top 5 tricks how to make a delicious bolognese sauce packed with vegetables.

  1. Hide well – blend all vegetables in a food processor separately as opposed to chopping them. You not only save time but they also blend in with the tomato sauce really nicely. None of my fussy eaters have ever noticed and believe me when I tell you that they can filter everything in the little mouths!
  2. Use your slow cooker – bring out your slow cooker if your have one. Cook the bolognese sauce for at least 2 hours on very low heat. I always use my cast iron “la creuset pot”. The meat always turned out so tender with full of flavour. Of course you can use a normal pot, just let it cook until the meat is soft.
  3. Cook one day in advance – if you plan ahead then cook the day before. Sauces always taste better overnight.
  4. Organic and lean meat – source good quality grassfed or organic ground beef from your local butcher or supermarket. It does make a huge difference to the taste.
  5. Good quality tomato paste and chooped tomatoes – over the years I have learnt to buy good quality Italian tomato paste and chopped tomatoes or passata. If they are slightly sour, the sauce will end up tasting a little sour and that’s when sometimes people add sugar to equalise the acidity.

My favourite vegetables and herbs to add to Bolognese sauce are:

Ingredients (for 500-600 gr ground beef)

  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 small cauliflower
  • 1 medium round turnip (when in season)
  • 2 celery stick
  • 1 small aubergine
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 large red onion (has a sweetish taste)
  • 4 large garlic cloves (pressed)
  • 3 tsp dry basil
  • 2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1/4 cup or 60 ml fresh parsley (chooped)
  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika powder
  • 1 tsp tumeric (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • a pinch of black pepper powder
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tin / 400gr chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 tsp pink / sea salt
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups / 500 ml water
  • “Conchiglioni Giganti” pasta (jumbo shell pasta) – 300 gr for 2 adults and 2 toddlers / 500 gr for 4 adults and 2 toddlers
  • grated cheese of choice (I used pecorino – goat cheese)

This time I have 5 our of 7 vegetables from above as I didn’t have zucchini and turnip at home.

Instruction

  1. Use your food processor if you have one to chop each vegetable separately, no need to rinse in between. Hand chop if you don’t own a food processor. I highly recommend you to buy one as it will change your life in the kitchen forever! You can get a very good quality for a reasonable price nowadays. My first one was by Bosch, a combined handblender (great to make baby purees and soup) and a small food processor which I still use today to make this Bolognese sauce.
  2. Heat up your slow cooker at medium heat. Drizzle a few rounds of olive oil, saute the onion until translucent, add garlic and stir for 30 seconds, add the ground meat and mash until the meat has broken down to smaller pieces.
  3. Add all the spices, tomato paste + salt, drizzle a few rounds of olive oil and keep stiring until the meat is cooked.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, the rest of the chopped vegetables and water. Give it a good stir and let it cook until the meat melts in your mouth. Check and stir every now and then. Add more salt and /or water if needed.
  5. Preheat the oven at 200° C / 400° F.
  6. Boil the jumbo shell pasta in salted water and 2 tsp of olive oil, cook until “al dente” or how you like them then drain the water. In a large baking tray, line each pasta shell back down and fill the topside with the sauce and more sauce all around.
  7. Sprinke with cheese on top and bake for 15 -20 minutes.

I hope you’ll enjoy this meal as much as we did! Please pop back here to leave your feedback in the comment below or head over to my Instagram post and leave your comment there.

Follow me @deliciouslittlekitchen on Instagram and @deliciouslittlekitchen on Facebook.

Enjoy!

Kat xx

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