I’m dedicating this recipe to Eli R-G, and Gary L – two peeps who mentioned they missed my cooking because I’ve been a tad slack on the food front of late.
Ragu is a bit of a funny word. It conjures connotations of something fancy but it’s not really. It’s just stew, but Italians would never be caught dead saying a word us unpoetic as steee-ewww.
“La bella steee-ewww.”
“La bellissima steee-eww.”
“La dolce steee-ewww.”
Ragu is certainly sounds classier than stew but in reality all this little beef ragu with not spaghetti is really an uptown version of bolognese. You know, because I’m uptown fancy and stuff.
This is just another way I can get my kids to eat some vegetables and some protein and no one argues about anything at dinner because I never met a kid that doesn’t like Spag Bog. My kids are generally pretty good eaters, but this is one of those dishes that I make a huge batch of, and I know I’ve got something good in the freezer that I can pull out on a night I’m shattered and they’ll eat it without arguing which is a massive win when I’m in that mood.
Know what I’m saying?
I’ve been cracking into the pretend pasta lately and I have to say my kids have barely noticed the difference. I’m not going paleo-tastic or even ever-so-popular gluten free, but I figure if I cut down on pasta and bread, I can eat more cake and doughnuts. And beer.
It’s impressive logic, I know.
There are a few camps of thinking about wheat, and I’m not going to suggest you do anything you don’t want to do. If you want to eat it all traditional like, go for it. Pasta rocks, but I will say that this soba and zucchini combo is pretty good too and a damn sight better for you.
My herb garden is going gangbusters so I used all fresh herbs from the garden but if that’s a ball ache for you, used dried. Just use slightly less as it shrinks when it’s dried.
This is a double batch for 4 people so my Not Spaghetti is only for four. Double noodles if you’re cooking for 8.
What you will need :
For ragu –
- 1kg gravy beef, any yucky sinews or fat removed, and cut into chunks
- 2 onions, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and cubed
- 3 rashes of bacon, chopped
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups chicken or beef stock
- 2 tins chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 large handful fresh oregano, chopped
- 2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 bay leaves
For Not Spaghetti (for 4) –
- 2 bunches soba noodles
- 2 zucchini, spiralised
- parmesan to serve
What you will need to do :
Cook your onion in a large heavy based saucepan until translucent. Add your garlic and bacon and cook until nice and fragrant. Add your beef and cook at quite a high temp so as to brown a little and not steee-eww it in its juices.
Add tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, wine and stock.
Toss in your chopped carrots, and add your vinegar, worcestershire and herbs. Season well. Bring to a simmer, then turn it down low and pop it on a heat diffuser with the lid on and leave it for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
It is ready when the meat falls apart with the back of a spoon. When it does this take a wooden spoon and a tablespoon and go through picking up the meat and squashing it into small chunks. It should be effortless. If not, stick it back on for a bit.
Pop a large pot of water on to boil, and toss in your soba noodles. After one and a half minutes, add your ‘noodles’ to the pot for a further 1.5 minutes.
Drain your noodles and serve immediately with a big spoonful of your delicious, rich meat sauce.
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