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Simple Vegetable Packed Meat Sauce

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The first thing that I really want to clarify, is that I am NOT Italian. The closest I get to being Italian, is that my sister married into an Australian Italian family, and I have not once cooked with them or learnt any of their style of Italian cooking.

That being said, Italian food is probably the sort of food I love the most. Especially a good meat sauce. It is one of the recipes I cook most often, I love eating it, I love how versatile a meat sauce can be, and I love how my kitchen and my home smells when it’s bubbling away on the stove.

I am always on the hunt on bolognese recipes. Not that the one that I do often is bad, but I just love it that much, that I am consistently looking for new ideas and new flavours that may work with it. I’ve done it with whole roast brisket chunks, I’ve made vegetarian version (with limited success), and I’ve gone back and forth with more traditional recipes.

This however is my standard go to as of late. It’s a simple stove-top version still packed with meaty flavours, but packed with vegetables to give us a dose of healthy eating even when it’s a simple pasta night.

Now before you jump the gun on this, given how VEGIE I have sold it, it is still a true bolognese (at least in flavour, not tradition, so if you’re Italian don’t go screaming at me). The whole point is to pad the meat out with some more vegetables to add to the flavour. I use tinned tomatoes for my meat sauce, which can have a more canned and bitter taste, so the use of more vegetables actually makes it better with a long slow cook, as it brings out the sweetness from the vegetables to balance everything out.

This however is also a perfect excuse for those in your life that don’t like their vegetables. Be it your wife (sorry darling), or your kids that need much more coercion.

How do you make your meat sauce? It’s a passion of mine, so I want to hear from you!!!


Simple Vegetable Packed Meat Sauce

  • Author: Matthew Phelps


A vegetable packed meat sauce, versatile for all sorts of uses, and good for you!



  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • 1 tbl butter
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 500 g beef mince
  • 500 g pork mince
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 2 x 400 g tins whole ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tbl tomato paste / puree
  • 1 tin lentils with liquid
  • 3 large zucchinis, grated
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped finely


  1. Place a large dutch oven on a medium heat, and add olive oil and butter.
  2. Once the butter begins to foam, add in the meats, breaking into small pieces. Allow to break apart and cook until liquid comes out of the mince. Brown for a further 5 – 10 min, until liquid disappears.
    TIP: Listen to the meat, as it will go from a bubbling sound in the liquid, to a frying noise once the liquid cooks away.
  3. Remove meat from pan with a slotted spoon into a bowl. Put aside.
  4. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook over medium heat for around 5 min, or until beginning to soften. If pan is too dry, add a little more olive oil.
  5. Once vegetables begin to soften, add in garlic and zucchini and cook away until the liquid cooks away.
  6. Add tomato paste and cook away for a few minutes.
  7. Add in wine, allow to cook away until wine becomes syrupy.
  8. Add tin of lentils, including the tin liquid, the meat, including any juices that have run off, and the stock, bringing up to the boil.
  9. Turn down heat to lowest possible, and put on a lid.
  10. Simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring regularly. If liquid is evaporating too quickly, top up with a small amount of water.
  11. Remove lid, add milk and stir in thoroughly. Simmer away for a further half hour with lid off. If sauce is becoming too thick, add in a small amount of water.
  12. Once thick and viscous, season to taste with salt and pepper, and add parsley in to finish.


  1. Make sure to use whole tinned tomatoes. Avoid the diced ones, as the tomatoes that are rejected for the whole tinned for their quality generally end up in these.
  2. This sauce can be served immediately, with leftovers able to be frozen.
  3. Sauce can be served with pasta or noodles, or used in lasagnes and other dishes. 
  4. To further use, you can always add in spice mixes, beans, etc for burritos, chilli con carne, etc.
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