Carotti Bolognese

Carotti Bolognese

This is my minimalist version of a beef ragu or bolognese sauce. The secret is in the butter. Feel free to substitute in your own favourite sauce. My Irishman likes to make chef Heston Blumenthal’s bolognese which takes 2 days and has an ingredient list as long as your arm. He couldn’t believe how well my little 5 ingredient, 20 minute bolognese compared.

serves 2-3
takes: 15 minutes

450g (1lb) minced (ground) beef
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans tomatoes (400g / 14oz)
large hunk butter
2 medium carrots

1. Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and cook beef and garlic, stirring every now and then for about 5 minutes or until well browned.

2. Add tomato and simmer for about 15 minutes or until reduced and good saucey.

3. Meanwhile bring a medium saucepan of salted water to the boil. Shave the carrots into ribbons using a vegetable peeler.

4. Cook carrots for 3 – 5 minutes or until al dente like cooked pasta. Drain.

5. Toss butter into the beef sauce and season.

6. Return the carrot to the saucepan and stir in some beef sauce. Then divide between plates and top with more sauce to serve.

Prepare Ahead?

No problems. Unlike the pasta the carrot can easily be cooked in advance and reheated without going gluggy. The meat sauce can taste better if made the day before!


vegetarian / vegan – replace the beef with the same weight of crumbled tofu.

dairy free – replace the butter with a generous drizzle of olive oil. The secret to good bolognese is richness so be generous.

– some fresh herbs, especially basil can be lovely sprinkled over the top.

carnivore fun – replace the beef with lamb or pork or veal or a mixture of any of the above.

carb lovers / more substantial – use spaghetti.

more veg
– add diced mushrooms, carrot and celery with the onions / garlic.

low carb – replace the carrot with zucchini noodles.

Waste Avoidance Strategy

minced (ground) beef – is best eaten within a few days. To store longer buy it packed in cryovac or for longer term storage freeze it.

garlic & canned tomatoes – keep in the pantry

butter – keeps in the fridge for months.

carrots – keep wrapped in a plastic bag in the fridge. Will last for weeks.

Problem Solving Guide

too bland – season with salt & pepper.

carrot difficult to shave – you need a sharp good quality peeler to do the job so make sure you have a new one. A mandoline will also work but mine doesn’t give as fine ribbons as the peeler.

too tomatoey
– I like my bolognese quite tomatoey – feel free to use less tomatoes if you prefer a more beefy flavour.

carrot falling apart – if your carrot is shaved into different thicknesses, it will cook unevenly and some will fall apart. I don’t mind this so much. If the whole lot is turning into carrot ‘mush’ then next time cook for less time – it doesn’t take as long as dried pasta.

Serving Suggestions

Great on its own or with a green salad.

You could serve with a little parmesan if you’re eating cheese or shave some brazil nuts over with a microplane grater – the nuts look heaps like parmesan and add a lovely subtle nutty richness.

Leftover Potential

Excellent! Will keep in the fridge for a week or so.

back to: The Mastering the Art of Cooking on a Budget Overview Page

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Tess Newnes February 11, 2014

Made the vegetarian version and served it with baby spinach – it was delicious!


jules February 20, 2014

Great Tess!


Mrs. Mack February 7, 2014

This was one of those recipes where I doubted your instructions Jules, but I’m glad I followed them anyway because it turned out great!

We had to double the recipe for our family, which meant 4 cans of tomatoes. We also like ours beefier than tomato-ier, so I bought 3 cans. After putting in the first two cans, it looked like way too much tomato and I thought about stopping there, but trusted you and put in the third can. It was soup! I was kicking myself… until it started cooking down. After several minutes of cooking with occasional stirring, it was lovely and thick, though it did take longer than you said (probably because there was twice the amount). Tasted wonderful. You *do* know what you’re doing. 🙂

A doubled recipe also meant 4 carrots, and I was nearly finished peeling the second carrot before I got the hang of making decent “noodles.” I had trouble figuring out how to hold the carrot without it slipping, but not letting the blade near my fingers. I was also cutting away from my body like I had learned was the safe way, but it was easier when I copied you in your video by slicing toward my body. However, it was even better when I peeled a little off the carrot to make a slight flat side, put that down on the cutting board, and then peel noodles from the top (until I needed to flip it over and do the same to the other side). My noodles done that way were closer to the thickness you had in your video. When I held the carrot in my hands, the noodles were so thin they were translucent.

This is a keeper in our household! Though my husband asked for pasta noodles instead of carrot noodles next time. Can I shred (or something) the carrot and put it in with the beef/tomatoes though, for added veg? When in the process would be best to do that?


jules December 29, 2011

Thanks for spotting the error Angie!
Have updated the recipe
I think a missing ingredients list is even too minimalist for me 🙂


Angie White December 21, 2011

Is it just me or is the ingredients list missing? Minimalist indeed… 🙂


Leave a Comment