Love a good bolognese. Loved it ever since childhood. In any of its forms, even if my taste for it has progressed from the first memories of it. From the standard home style spagetti och köttfärssås made with sticky spaghetti and lots of ketchup that my stepmother often served during the eight years I lived with her. The glass jar version from Barilla, or the Findus frozen all-in-one bag that both were active visitors in my first own kitchen from the age of 16 when I moved from home. One version that later stuck with me was a friends friends bolognese that was made with elk meat and lots of onion and cream. I was amazed by how something that I always liked in its most simple form, could be made so much better. I still can recall the creamy delectableness of it, even 15 years later.
I remember the "real" Italian versions later eaten in Venice or Milan, which were great, but they never quite included all the flavours that I had soon discovered I could concoct in my own kitchen.
The reason for it being the more simple nature of the original recipe. It is firstly not called Spaghetti Bolognese in neither Bologna nor Italy as a whole, even if the source of the inspiration hails from Bologna. The real name is Tagliatelle al Ragu, always made with tagliatelle, not spaghetti. The recipe is so important to Italy that Bologna's Chamber of Commerce asked the Italian Academy of Cooking to come up with an official recipe in 1982. The result was a simple sauce which only contained beef, pancetta, onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, white wine and milk. The herbs and garlic that often are added is nothing in the style of a real Italian ragu, the Italians say. But food is open for anyone to interpret and adjust to their liking.
One of the most beautiful things with travelling and learning about other people and their cultures, is the possibility of bringing home with you whatever inspiration that struck your heart, and infuse your own life with it, in your own personal way. No need to be right, only what is right to you is, right, for you.
As with most other things I cook, I never follow a recipe when I make a bolognese. Just add to it whatever is available for the day. And I still call it Bolognese, even if I nowadays don't even add meat to it.
I prefer to choose organic textured soy protein as meat substitute, a lentil and mushroom mix would work good too. I don't like to use quorn, as it is made from a human invented protein fabricated in laboratories and therefore very far from natural, clean food. And yes, the soy should always be organic due to the fact that almost all non-organic soy products are made with genetically engineered soy beans.
Basic ingredients for a bolognese for me would be:
Organic textured soy protein
Grated carrots, same amount as soy, makes things filling and juicy
Garlic, lots of it, 2-4 cloves per batch
A good tomato sauce, or fresh chopped tomatoes
Salt and Pepper
Spoonful of honey, to balance flavours
A few chili flakes, or sometimes sambal
Water, if needed
Red wine, occasionally
Served with grated parmesan cheese, sometimes
Later blended with whichever pasta I may have in the cupboard
The penne style pasta above reminds so much of the frozen Findus bags I bought as a very young adult. A fond flashback memory of who you have been, always adds another dimension to any food, or life experience.
For the bolognese in the pictures above, I've also added half a teaspoon turmeric, and half a teaspoon moringa leaf powder. Just to make it extra full of superfood nutrients and anti-inflammatory power.
Always start with sweating the onion, then add one ingredient after another and let it all simmer for as long as possible. Anything from two to four hours is great if you can. This will allow the flavours to develop fully and the sauce to become as rich as you want it to. That's why this meal is sometimes even better the day after. And also why I always like making a big batch that lasts for at least another meal for another day.