Not Your Mama's Spag Bol!

Thursday 12 November 2009

There's a bit of an ongoing battle in our house about Italian Food. Todd says he hates Italian Food, but what he really means is . . . he hates pasta, but then again . . . in another breath he is saying he loves tinned spaghetti on toast . . .

Does that make sense???

I thought not!!

Anyways, I am a pasta loving carbaholic, and I can only go so long without it. Every once in a while I just have to torture him with some. I can't help myself . . .

When I was growing up my mom used to make what she called "Italian Spaghetti" at least once every couple of weeks. That was as close to foreign cooking as she ever got . . . browning a pound of ground beef and adding a tin of Catelli Spaghetti Sauce. I hated it. I used to just eat the spaghetti plain, with a healthy shake of smelly sock. (That's what we called Parmesan cheese in my family. I know . . . TMI!!)

Once we got older, she discovered chili powder and oregano, and once a week (usually Saturday nights) she would treat us to her version of chili, which was ok, but . . . quite plain, although my dad loved it. The recipe came from the back of a tin of Tomato Soup . . . need I say more???

I love chili, and I love Spaghetti Bolognese. I think the British have quite adopted Spaghetti Bolognese, or Spag Bol as it is affectionately dubbed over here, as their own, and I think everyone here in the UK has their own secret recipe.

I don't believe in keeping secrets when it comes to cooking . . . I like to share!! This here is my version of Spag Bol . . . It combines two of my great loves . . . Spaghetti Bolognese and Chili. I guarantee, it's not anything like your mama's version!

*Not Your Mama's Spag Bol*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

This is a different sort of a twist that I put on good old Spaghetti Bolognaise. In truth, I love this even more than regular Spag Bol! I just can't get enough of it!

1 TBS olive oil
16 ounces extra lean beef mince
1 small onion, peeled and grated
1 fat clove of garlic, peened and crushed
2 green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 envelope of Taco seasoning mix
(I use Discovery)
1 (420g) tin of chopped tomatoes
14 ounces of beef stock
6 ounces tomato puree
1 (420g) tin of black beans, drained and rinsed
12 ounces of uncooked spaghetti
Sour cream, Shredded cheddar cheese, chopped or finely sliced red onion

Place the olive oil into a large saucepan and heat. Once it is hot add the beef mince. Cook and stir until it is completely browned. Add the onion, garlic, chilies, salt, cumin and taco seasoning mix and continue to cook and stir until the onion, garlic and peppers are soft. Add the chopped tomatoes, beef stock, and tomato puree. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Gently stir in the beans and cook for a further 5 minutes.

In the meantime bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain well and divide amongst hot serving plates. Top each with a portion of the sauce and pass the toppings!!

And . . . just in case you were wondering . . . this is how the Toddster ate his . . .

That's right! On top of a huge pile of fluffy mash. Well . . . to each his own I always say!

Note - Waitrose is stocking this new grated cheese mixture by Simply Inspired. I used the spicy Mexican one here, it has cheddar and mozzarella mixed with red, green and jalapeno peppers and crushed chillies. Delicious!!! It was just perfect!


  1. How can Todd not adore something that YOU cook?! This looks amazing! I love Italian, and I love Mexican--I do LOTS of Mexican cooking at my house--this looks like such a wonderful fusion of the two! Anything with garlic, chilis, and cumin is fabulous in my book! Once again, your post just made me so happy! By the way, if you come over to my place tonight, you'll find a little gift I left for's silly, but fun!

  2. Hahaha ... just had to see what Spag Bol could be.
    The Spanish restaurant that Anthony & I went to for our first date, Café Olé, had an excellent spicy meaty tomatoey sauce over rotini, IIRC. A nice fusion of two dishes Anthony would specialize in for the next decade or so ;D

  3. That was funny. My mother was a wonderful cook, but came late to curries - her version consisted of browned mince, onion and Madras curry powder, the gloriously named Vencatachellum brand - and we loved it!

  4. Tin 'sgetti served on toast...its an English thing I'm afraid! Probably reminds him of school holidays, being at home, off sick from school and feeling sorry for himself, his mum making him something to cheer him up....oh, sorry, that could just be me!!!

  5. This is a terrific take on a classic, Marie! And such a funny have such a way with words and presenting things! And this recipe over mash--I must share this with my sister--she's love it! Happy Day, sweet friend--LOVE YA ((BIG HUGS))

  6. I have never had tinned spaghetti! Am I missing something?!

    I quite like Cincinatti Chili, but Jesse hates it. Ah well.....I just order it whenever I see it on a menu....

  7. You didn't miss much Amy! We used to have it as kids and my DS1 practically lived on the hoop version with potato waffles, rejecting all my homemade food until he reached puberty when he miraculously turned into a discerning diner! My Mum was of the curry powder generation too, but made a mean spag bol. I remember in the early 70s we had friends who moved over from California to Scotland and she was so shocked not to be able to buy 'spaghetti sauce' in a jar, Mum always made her own with tinned tomatoes. Great post, it brought back loads of memories.

  8. This sounds like my kind of food! Love chili!

  9. Just by chance Spag bol is down for tomorrow's dinner so I'll try out this recipe, which is not a million miles from mine. The chillies will have to come out of a jar because I haven't got the other sort. Keith's got used to pasta over the years - he's had to! - but he's still stubbornly resisting rice.

    love, Angie, xx

  10. In Australia Spag Bol is counted as the Favourite Meal! And yours looks wonderful. Much more wonderful than tinned spaghetti on toast!

  11. Marie, my husband (also an Englishman)says he hates spaghetti and pastas as well... although he's never mentioned liking the tinned stuff. I, like you, am a true pasta/carboholic and sneak some in on him from time to time. Nowadays he says he'll tolerate really tiny stuff like "angel hair" (yay!) but never in a million years could I get him to consume my favorite, Lasagna. He calls that "fatty" (meaning thick, I suppose) pasta. Sigh........


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