This feature is a take on the 3 R’s – in this case Ragu (who doesn’t love the Italian sauce for a bolognese?); Riches (in other words how it can become the basis for so many other bariatric-friendly options – rags to riches – simple to sophisticated it will fit all bills); and Rehab – since I’ve tinkered with the original recipe to make it most suitable for wls patients whether they be carnivores or vegetarians; tolerant of beef/pasta or not; and early out of surgery or long-term post-op.
This is an education you’ll enjoy – I make the basic recipe every week in different guises and it never fails to please. And don’t beef about this meat choice – if you prefer, then you can use minced/ground lamb, pork, turkey, chicken, quorn or a mixture. I used a similar recipe for my turkey bolognese recipe in ‘Return to Slender’ bariatric cookery book below.
It’s also a recipe that’s great for pre-surgery and post-surgery patients (as well as all the family). You can see the ideal portion size for bariatrics here on the bariatric portion plate. I hope you’ll enjoy this share of one of our most popular and versatile recipes!
BASIC BARIATRIC RAGU
450 g/1 lb extra lean minced/ground beef
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
500 g/1 lb carton or jar of passata (sieved tomatoes) – plain or flavoured with garlic and herbs if liked
1 beef stock/bouillon cube, crumbled or dissolved in a little hot water
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 150 C, 300 F, gas mark 2.
2. Place the beef in a large non-stick, ovenproof and flameproof casserole and cook over a high heat until browned, breaking up the beef as you do so.
3. Add the onion and cook for a further 3 minutes.
4. Add the passata, stock/bouillon cube, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste, mixing well. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
5. Remove from the heat and cook in the oven for 11/4 – 11/2 hours until cooked and a rich thick sauce has developed. Serve hot with pasta if liked or follow any of the instructions below to vary the recipe.
WLS PORTION: 1/2
* suitable for Freezing
CALORIES PER PORTION: 202
So this super-useful beef, onion and tomato ragu is divine but you can gussy it up with some savvy alternatives:
SPRUCE IT UP FOR A SALAD OFFERING
Make the basic recipe but since this requires a ragu that is a bit drier than usual cook for a little longer (say 20 minutes) or reduce the liquid slightly. Reheat until warm for serving. To serve, mix a chunky sliced cucumber with 225 g/8 oz halved cherry tomatoes, 1/2 thinly sliced red onion, a few pitted green or black olives, 100 g/4 oz chopped and diced low-fat feta cheese and 2-3 tbsp fat-free French dressing with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir about 4 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley into the warm ragu and serve on cos/romaine lettuce leaves with the prepared salad mixture piled high. A great alternative if you can’t tolerate pasta.
MAKE IT INTO A MOUSSAKA
Make the basic recipe and add 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon to the mixture. Cut 1 kg/generous 2 lb aubergines/eggplant into slices. Spritz with low-fat cooking spray, arrange singularly on a baking tray, season with salt and pepper and bake in a preheated hot oven 200 C/400 F/gas 6 for 15 minutes. Turn and cook for a further 15-20 minutes until golden. Spread half of the ragu into a baking or gratin dish (measuring about 30 x 20 x 6 cm/12 x 8 x 2.5 inches or equivalent) and lay half the aubergines on top, then repeat with ragu and aubergines. For the topping, whisk 500 g/1 lb fat-free thick Greek yogurt with 2 medium beaten eggs, then stir in 100g/4 oz grated reduced-fat or light halloumi chesse. Spread over the top and then scatter with a further 25g/1 oz grated reduced-fat or light halloumi cheese. Bake for 40-45 minutes until puffy and golden. Allow to stand for 10-15 minutes before serving. Again a great alternative if you can’t tolerate pasta and also a great make ahead dish.
SPICE IT UP FOR A CHILLI
Make the ragu in the usual way but add 1-2 tsp chilli powder (strength according to your liking) with the passata. Add a drained 200 g/7 oz can beans (butter, kidney or your favourite) 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time. When cooked, serve with rice in the usual way (like chilli con carne) or as fajitas (using low fat and low-carb tortillas) with guacamole, thick fat-free yogurt, chopped corisnder/cilantro and lime wedges. Dust with cayenne or chilli pepper if you like your dishes spicy. A great way of introducing extra protein (in the form of beans) to a ragu, it’s pasta-free and great for informal dining.
MAKE A PASTA-LESS LASAGNE
This ragu mixture can also be used to make our pasta-less lasagne recipe (which has proved to be immensely popular). See the original here but use the ragu meat recipe above instead if you prefer. Pasta-less again and a great crowd pleasing recipe to serve with salad.
SPUD U MIGHT LIKE COTTAGE PIE
Make up the ragu recipe as above then layer in a dish with 1 kg/21/4 lb very thinly sliced potatoes(white or sweet – your choice). Top with a few rosemary sprigs, cover with foil and bake in a preheated 200 C/400 F/gas 6 oven for about 1 hour until tender. Remove the foil and cook for a further 30 minutes until golden. Serve with green vegetables in season. Tender, soft and comforting, this dish is easy on the pouch and may be one of the first beef and potato meals you can enjoy after a traditional shepherd’s or herder’s pie – it’s also bound to become a family favourite!
RAGU BOLOGNESE ON COURGETTE PASTA
You don’t have to use pasta for serving your ragu bolognese – you can thinly slice courgettes into ribbon like slices (thick or thin like tagliatelle or spaghetti) and steam or quickly boil for serving.
Bariatric Portion Plate – as seen on ‘The One Show’