“This is a really convenient, nutritious standby to have in the fridge or freezer, which can easily be taken lots of ways – serve simply with pasta, hunks of bread or a jacket potato, or use in cottage pie, lasagne, cannelloni and chilli. ”
Finely slice 2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon and place in a large casserole pan on a medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once golden, stir in 1kg of minced beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
Drain and add 2 x 400g tins of beans, pick, finely chop and add the leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, along with 2 fresh bay leaves, then cook it all for 20 minutes, or until dark golden, stirring regularly. Any time it starts to catch at the bottom of the pan, simply add a splash of red wine (if using) or water to pick up all those nice, sticky bits.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
Peel 2 large onions and 2 large carrots, trim 1 celery heart, then finely chop it all (by hand or in a food processor). Stir into the pan and cook for another 15 minutes.
Tip the contents of the sun-dried tomato jar (280g) into a blender, add 2 tablespoons of balsamic and blitz until smooth. Stir 2 tablespoons into the pan, then decant the rest back into the jar, popping it into the fridge for another day – it will be delicious brushed on to meat, fish or veg before roasting or grilling, or used on crostini.
Pour 2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes into the pan, along with 2 tins’ worth of water. Mix well, bring to the boil, then pop into the oven uncovered for 1 hour, or until thick and reduced.
Taste, season to perfection, and cool. Once cool, divide between tubs or bags, and pop portions into the fridge or freezer until needed.
HEALTH & NUTRITION
Bulking out minced meat with beans is a great habit to get into, as it means we get extra protein without extra saturated fat from the mince, plus beans give us gut-friendly fibre – win, win!