Calorie Cheating Spaghetti Bolognese

An absolutely delicious bolognese sauce so low in calories, you can have a proper plate of spaghetti

low fat bologneseWell, here we go again.  I can’t be the only one who decided to cook ‘normally’ this Christmas – with the inevitable consequences…

But….so bloody inconvenient dieting in the New Year, when you’re crying out for sausages in gravy with a big pile of buttery mashed potato, not some scantily-dressed grilled chicken salad!

And as for spaghetti bolognese – well that’s clearly off the menu now you’re counting calories again – no point in trying to make that child’s starter portion of spaghetti go the distance!

On the other hand….

Here’s a really good low fat recipe for a ragu-style sauce that’s so low calorie that you can have a decent portion of pasta – and by that I mean about 85g dry weight – in other words, what normal people eat.

At less than 120 calories per serving – and it’s a generous serving – a proper plateful of spaghetti bolognese will come in at roughly 420, which should fit into your low calorie regime.  To put that in perspective for any calorie nubes out there, that’s significantly less than the average Tricolore Salad – without any bread.  Hey, you could even allow yourself a fine dusting of grated parmesan!

Incidentally, the cheat here is replacing the fatty lamb or beef mince with ultra-lean pork tenderloin, bulking that out with lentils but preserving the overall sense of meatiness with chopped chicken liver.   And before you say that sounds really really offal (sorry..!) I can tell you that I even got this past my kids without any complaints whatsoever.

low calorie bolognese

calorie cheating bolognese sauce recipe (Serves 6)

150g Pork Tenderloin 
200g Chicken Liver
150g Tinned Lentils
1 large Onion
3 cloves Garlic
100g Carrots
1 stalk Celery
300g Mushrooms
2 tins Tomatoes
1 tbs Tomato Puree
175ml Red wine
Beef stock cube
10ml Olive oil
1 tsp Dried herbs
1-2 tsp coarse salt
Pinch Stevia-based sweetener 
1 tbs Mushroom Ketchup OR
  Worcester Sauce (optional)
  1. Blitz or really finely chop all the vegetables.
  2. Gently fry off the onion and garlic in the olive oil and don’t rush it – it will take about 15 minutes on a lowish heat and be careful not to burn anything.
  3. Meanwhile mince the pork or blitz in the food processor. Finely chop the liver.
  4. After about 10-15 minutes, add the carrot and celery. Fry it off for a while, adding the herbs.
  5. Then turn the heat up and brown the pork and then the liver, keeping everything moving.
  6. Add the lentils, tomatoes, stock, red wine and seasonings – 1tsp of salt at this point, whether you need more later will partly depend on how salty your stock cube turns out to be
  7. Get everything cooking nicely and then chop the mushrooms finely and add – then simmer for about an hour.
  8. Add some water where needed to keep things moving. You want to keep this sauce quite loose.
  9. It’s ready when it looks delicious and tastes meaty. Check the seasoning – if there’s not enough flavour, carefully add more salt.

low fat spag bol

Just a couple of other things to mention:

Yes, it’s a real pain frying vegetables off using minimal oil and a lower than usual temperature, but remember, it’s this process that brings out flavour

You don’t need to use the sweetener, but I always think a tomato based sauce needs it. Stevia-based products such as Truvia in the UK are perfect for cooking with no calorific impact but without affecting flavour.

Don’t skimp on the salt!

And be sure to use a nice thin spaghetti so you get as many strands as possible for the weight. Barilla No. 5 (from Tesco) is very good; my favourite, if you can get hold of it, is Panzani.

If you want a little Parmesan with it, a 5g dusting (which is plenty so long as you use a really fine grater, like a microplane) will add just under 20 calories – a 125ml glass of Chianti will add another 90 or so.

Buon Appetito!

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