The whole family is going to love this slimming friendly Spaghetti Bolognese! A truly rich Bolognese sauce that’s suitable for popular weight loss plans, versatile, suitable for freezing and all round delicious.Your Spag Bol never tasted this good!
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If you asked me what’s the meal I make most often it would have to be Spaghetti Bolognese! It’s probably one of the first recipes I made for myself as a student and it remains a firm family favourite. Every time we visit Greece my mom has a big pot of Bolognese waiting 😉
Thankfully this truly rich meat pasta sauce makes for a PERFECT slimming meal and no one will ever suspect it’s ‘diet food’. It’s worth making a big batch and freezing so that you always have to hand.
And it is so versatile: add some tinned beans, serve it over rice and call it ‘chilli’. Roast some sliced sweet potatoes and serve it nacho style! It also makes a perfect meat sauce for lasagne. Take a look at the video and step by step instructions to see how its done!
What goes into my Spag Bol
You will laugh but when I first moved to the UK I had no idea what ‘spag bol’ was! I always smile when my kids ask for it now. It’s worth using the best ingredients for this sauce, it makes all the difference!
- Lean (5% fat) beef mince (ground beef). You could also use turkey mince if you like!
- Passata: I love using Cirio Passata Rustica, it is thicker and has a bit more texture than the usual smooth passata.
- Chopped tomatoes: use the best Italian tinned crushed tomatoes. I don’t need to tell you that watery tomatoes can ruin this dish.
- Tomato paste (a.k.a tomato purée)
- Finely diced onion, celery and carrots. This mix of vegetables is called ‘soffrito’ and it’s the backbone of many Italian recipes.
- Minced garlic – best to use fresh garlic but I do sometimes use frozen chopped garlic if I am in a hurry!
- Italian herb mix and bay leaves
- A little granulated sweetener such as Sukrin
- Lots of extra veggies can be added if you like
- Dried spaghetti, although any dried pasta will work. Tagliatelle Bolognese is actually much more authentic! I like using wholemeal pasta to up the fibre content. Use gluten free pasta if preferred.
How to make SW Spaghetti Bolognese
Full measurements and instructions can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page. Please take a look at the steps and video before attempting this recipe!
Spray a large frying pan or casserole dish with low calorie cooking spray such as Fry Light or use olive oil.
Add the onions, celery and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If your pan gets too dry and sticks, add a little vegetable stock.
Stir in the minced garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the ground beef, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon. Brown the mince for a few minutes then add the salt, sweetener, garlic granules, Italian herb mix.
Stir in the tomato pasta, passata and chopped tomatoes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, stock, Parmesan rind and bay leaves.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Check your Bolognese sauce, it should be thick and rich with most of the liquid absorbed. If it’s still watery you can continue to cook for a little longer.
Discard the cheese rind and bay leaves. Stir in plenty of fresh basil and check the seasoning – adjust to your taste if needed.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add salt. Cook the spaghetti until al dente then drain and transfer to a large bowl.
Add a couple of ladlefuls of Bolognese sauce to the pasta and toss together to combine. Divide among bowls, add more sauce and serve with a little grated Parmesan and some chopped basil.
Bringing out the best flavour in your sauce is easy if you know how! It requires nothing more than a slow cooking and a couple of tricks.
- First make sure you cook your base vegetables (soffrito) for a good 10-15 minutes until properly softened but not coloured. Many speedy Bolognese recipes only allow for five minutes which is nowhere near long enough.
- Add umami flavour bombs: the rind of your Parmesan cheese and Worcestershire sauce. The cheese rind will add so much yumminess and don’t worry, you do discard it at the end.
- Adding red or white wine is common in many recipes but to keep the sauce diet friendly I have left it out. If I am going to have wine I would rather drink them if you get me!
- Finally just simmer the sauce low and slow for 40 minutes to an hour until it has thickened. If you are pressed for time you can cook it in a slow cooker.
- Mixing the pasta with the sauce before serving allows for the two to get to know each other and brings out their best!
Is Spag Bol slimming-friendly?
It really is! If you want it to be really low in calories you can replace the spaghetti with spiralised vegetable noodles such as courgette noodles (a.k.a zoodles).
It’s so easy to go overboard when serving spag bol. Make sure to add a leafy salad or steamed vegetables rather than loading your plate with pasta alone.
I have allowed 60g (2oz) of spaghetti per person in this recipe which comes to 460 calories per serving. This recipe is 13 SmartPoints on WeightWatchers.
Storing and Freezing
You can keep the sauce for up to four days in the fridge. If you are organised then make a big batch and freeze for syn free meal emergencies!
Cool the sauce completely before freezing (or storing in fridge). Put in freezer-safe containers, label and use within 4-6 months but ideally within 3.
I like using my freezing hack – spooning into silicone muffin tins, freezing until solid then transferring to large freezer bags, squeezing all the air out first.
Defrost overnight in the fridge. Reheat in a saucepan and make sure the sauce is hot all the way through before serving.
You will also love…
- Low calorie cooking spray
- 1 large onion , finely chopped
- 2 carrots , finely chopped
- 2 large stalks of celery , finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves , minced
- 500 g | 17oz lean beef mince 5% fat
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp granulated sweetener (optional)
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp Italian herb mix (optional)
- 680 g | 24oz passata preferably Passata Rustica
- 400 g | 14oz tin chopped tomatoes crushed tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 300 ml | 1 ⅓ cups hot vegetable stock
- Small piece of Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Large handful fresh basil chopped
- Salt and pepper to season
- 360 g | 12 ½ oz dried spaghetti or pasta of your choice
- 2 tsp salt for pasta water
- Grated Parmesan optional
- Chopped parsley or basil
- Spray a large deep sided frying pan or casserole dish with low calorie cooking spray.
- Add the onions, celery and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If your pan gets too dry and sticks add a little vegetable stock.
- Stir in the minced garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add the ground beef, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon.
- Brown the mince for a few minutes then add the salt, sweetener, garlic granules, paprika and Italian herb mix.
- Stir in the tomato paste, passata and chopped tomatoes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, stock, Parmesan rind and bay leaves.
- Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Uncover the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes.
- Check your sauce, it should be thick and rich with most of the liquid absorbed. If it’s still watery you can continue to cook for a little longer.
- Discard the cheese rind and bay leaves. Stir in plenty of fresh basil and check the seasoning – adjust to your taste if needed.
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add salt. Cook the spaghetti until al dente then drain and transfer to a large bowl.
- Add a couple of ladlefuls of Bolognese sauce to the pasta and toss together to combine. Divide among bowls and serve with a little grated Parmesan (30 g is allowed as healthy extra a) and some chopped parsley.
Slow Cooker Bolognese
- To get the best flavour you will need to follow steps 1-5 and cook the vegetables and beef on the stove. Transfer them to your CrockPot and add the tomatoes, passata and paste.
- Stir in the vegetable stock, bay leaves and Parmesan rind and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours without opening the lid.
- Uncover turn heat to HIGH and cook for another hour so that the tomato sauce can thicken.
Cool the sauce completely before freezing (or storing in fridge). Put in freezer containers, label and use within 4-6 months but ideally within 3. Defrost overnight in the fridge and make sure the sauce is hot all the way through before serving. ––––––
Please note I am not affiliated in any way with Slimming World or Weight Watchers. These plans are often updated in line with latest nutritional guidance and may change so for accurate information it is best to join as a member. ––––––
Nutritional information is always approximate, and will depend on quality of ingredients and serving sizes.