Pesto Bolognese

Pesto Bolognese with penne

Mary Berry suffered the wrath of traditionalists when she used white wine instead of red wine in her Bolognese recipe. On that basis, our take on the classic ragù, which calls for pesto in place of passata, is no doubt going to be seen as utterly scandalous.

We're not purposely trying to commit an atrocity against traditional Italian cuisine, but because we don't make traditional pestos, we figure all bets are off.

Try it before you dismiss it. By taking a stripped-back Bolognese recipe and sneaking some red pesto in via the back door, we reckon we've come up with a more than acceptable meaty pesto sauce that we can serve without fear of getting whacked.

Pro tip
The customisable nature of Bolognese gives cooks the freedom to add all kinds of extras. Oregano, chilli flakes, porcini mushrooms, and chicken livers are all fair game. If we’re feeling really fancy pants, you’ll find us adding fish sauce, whole milk, and a Parmesan rind too.

Ingredients for six

Beef mince 500g
Penne 450g
Tinned tomatoes x1 tin
Pesto 150g
Onion x1
Carrot x1
Worcestershire sauce dash
Garlic granules pinch
Seasoning as needed
Canola oil as needed
Garnishes optional

In a saucepan or wok, heat up the oil until you start to see wisps of smoke. Fry your beef mince in batches until well browned. Set aside.

Thinly slice the onion and chop the carrot into pea-sized cubes and sweat in a little oil or unsalted butter until softened and fragrant, but not browned.

Add the beef, tinned tomatoes, garlic granules, and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a gentle simmer. Continue simmering for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the pesto.

Fill a clean pan with water and season with a few pinches of salt. Add the penne and cook according to the pack instructions until al dente, about 10 minutes.

Drain the pasta and combine it with the sauce.

Dish up and garnish with plenty of Parmesan and chives.