So, I never really thought of myself as a good cook. But it turns out that when I put my mind to it I’m actually pretty good at mixing flavours together in a hodge podge kind of way – go figure!
This is what we ate last night – Veggie Bolognese with a (chipotle) twist.
And it was really rather delicious. So much so that TJ has taken the rest of it to work today for lunch. How’s that for success?
The idea for this came, as most of my meals do, from a need to use what was in the cupboard and some very random decisions along the way. But I like that – I think cooking is very much an artistic kind of activity – I’m just no good at following a recipe properly (mostly because I never have all the ingredients to hand). But that doesn’t mean I don’t use recipes for inspiration…
The basis for this particular sauce goes back a few weeks ago when I decided to make a vegetarian bolognese and realised we didn’t have any pre-made sauce. I searched online for ideas on how to use the ingredients I had available and came across this recipe by The Pioneer Woman which struck a chord. The addition of grated carrot to the sauce was new to me, but the addition of milk was something I had seen when in Germany – I was keen to try both!
We don’t generally have much cow’s milk in the house though, prefering dairy alternatives, so I decided cream of tomato soup would suffice for the creaminess aspect of the milk and went with it. Thankfully it worked beautifully, and I knew I wanted to try it again.
That’s when yesterday’s recipe happened. I started off by preparing all my fresh ingredients first, having realised that it really is easier if you chop and grate everything before you turn on the heat (rather than simply creating more washing up as I always thought!)
In went the (very) roughly chopped onions (because I wanted some extra chunks to the sauce) followed closely by the grated carrot and courgette. I had planned to document each stage, but at this point I discovered a jar of chipotle paste in the cupboard whilst searching for some seasoning and my mind wandered elsewhere…
I sent out an image on instagram and twitter asking if anyone thought adding chipotle paste to a bolognese would work and I got a very excited response from Mummy Whiskers. So I thought, “what the heck” and threw some in. TJ loves a bit of a kick to his food (hence us having chipotle paste in the first place) and I knew he would like it – but would I?
I wasn’t sure how much to put in, and I made the mistake of tasting a tiny bit of the paste before adding some to the pan. This meant all I could taste was chipotle and couldn’t tell if I’d put enough in to the sauce or not. Oh well, you live and learn!
I continued adding my ingredients: diced courgette and roughly sliced bell pepper; tinned tomatoes and finally tomato soup. I put the frozen peas, sweetcorn and fresh mangetout in a pan with some tiny wheat-free alphabet pasta shapes and boiled some wheat-free penne in another pan. Finally, I added salt and pepper to the sauce and let it reduce down as it was rather “wet” after adding a whole tin of tomato soup!
It reduced beautifully though and so I strained the peas, sweetcorn, mangetout, tiny pasta shapes combo and added that to the sauce. It looked lovely…
All in all I would call this meal a success and I think it may become one of our family favourites. Now that I am working full-time from home, I am able to make sure I finish work in the evening in time to start cooking more adventurously (rather than taking an hour to get home and making it too late to really do anything more than a very basic meal). I’m looking forward to where this will take me!
Do you want to know how I did it? Well, I’m not good at recipes but here goes…
- 2 carrots (grated)
- 2 courgettes (1 grated, one diced)
- 1 large onion (roughly chopped)
- 1 bell pepper (roughly sliced into bite sized pieces)
- a handful of fresh mangetout (chopped into bite sized pieces)
- a cupful of frozen peas
- a cupful of frozen sweetcorn
- a cupful of small pasta shapes (optional)
- approx. 2.5 tsps of chipotle paste (can be substituted with normal tomato paste)
- 1 tin of tomatoes
- 1 tin of cream of tomato soup
Of course, the lovely nature of this recipe is that aside from the basics of tinned tomatoes, cream of tomato soup, tomato paste, onions and the grated veg you can mix and match the rest of the ingredients depending on what you have in your cupboards the time! Don’t want mange tout and bell pepper? Why not try mushrooms and broccoli!
- Heat around a tbsp of oil in a large pan
- Add the roughly chopped onion and leave for a few minutes to soften
- Add the grated carrot and courgette and allow to soften for about 5 mins
- Add the chipotle paste and mix in with the onion, carrot and courgette
- Add the diced courgette and bell pepper, allow to soften for another 5-10 mins
- Add the tinned tomatoes and mix
- Add the tomato soup, half a tin first and then the other half when it has reduced a little
- Leave on steady heat and boil pasta along with the rest of the veg
- Once veg and pasta is cooked, strain and add veg to sauce, then dish up
This went down a treat not just with us but also with the dinosaurs…