I am so over winter and we are only half way through. I can’t wait to shed the layers of clothing, open up the house to gentle summer breezes and feel the sun on my skin. I had a touch of summer the other day when the sun finally came out and it was warming my face as I sat in my car. Fabulous feeling.
The winter this year has felt much more grey and foreboding than usual. Canberra is cold by Australian standards but normally has these beautiful clear blue skies. I may just be imagining things but this year it seems like there has been more rain and fog. The clouds have meant it has not been as cold overnight but I prefer mornings like this morning. The ground was decidedly crunchy with frost as I walked the dogs but the sky had that big blue openness that I associate with Canberra.
One of the downsides of these beautiful blue but cold mornings is that my hot water gets a bit temperamental. I have solar hot water and on frosty mornings, the system freezes up and it takes a little while for the backup electrical system to kick in. I stand shivering in my bathroom trying to get the heater to keep me warm while I wait for the water to flow. I still haven’t managed to live in a house with great bathroom heating. Do they exist?
On to winter food. Except when hunting for great mac and cheese recipes, I have cut back quite a bit on the amount of pasta that I eat. I found that the portion sizes of pasta that I like to feel full are laden with too many calories. But with this cold weather, I was looking for some favourite comfort food like pasta with a Bolognese sauce. We had Spaghetti Bolognese when I was growing up when the non Italian parts of Australia started to discover the joys of Italian food. Spaghetti Bolognese was so exotic and served with that absolutely revolting canned sprinkly cheese that someone thinks is ok to call parmesan. Blech. I am so glad we have moved on from that to being able to buy the real deal.
Pasta with bolognese sauce is a good pasta option to go for in terms of keeping calories down and this recipe from Weight Watchers has about 540 calories when I made it for one. To make this for one I used the following ingredients:
- 1 tsp of light olive oil
- ¼ medium onion, finely chopped
- ¼ of a carrot, finely chopped
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 145g of very lean mince beef
- 200g of canned tomatoes – I used chopped rather than the whole tomatoes.
- ¼ cup of beef stock
- A pinch of chilli powder
- 1 tbs of fresh basil (I am a bit of a basil fiend so didn’t reduce this and the basil is so low in calories it doesn’t matter)
- 100g of fusilli pasta (I am just not coordinated enough to use spaghetti)
- 1 tbs of parmesan cheese, shaved (the original recipe does not have this but what is pasta without some parmesan to top it off)
I followed the recipe as given and the preparation time as given of 20 minutes is pretty close. It is important to chop the carrot and onion finely to make sure it cooks through. Try and get the pieces as similar in size as possible to get even cooking. The cook time is more than that given – following the recipe you can’t cook this in 15 minutes. It is more like 25 minutes if your cooktop is slow to warm up like mine or 20 minutes if you are using gas.
As I mentioned in the ingredients, I added parmesan cheese at the end as a garnish. Love great parmesan with my pasta. Parmesan is one of those products where you need to buy good quality to properly appreciate it. But you don’t need to use much so worth the extra cost.
There is some wastage for the single person in this meal. I have yet to find a quarter carrot of sale though you might be able to use baby carrots. And you need to plan meals to use up the rest of the tomato and onion. Or you could make a bigger batch of this sauce. I didn’t freeze any sauce but the recipe indicates it is suitable to freeze. You could then use it for a cottage pie or more pasta.