Elevate your spag bol from everyday to excellent with these interesting flavour additions

Image: 6 flavour twists on spaghetti bolognaise

Spaghetti bolognese (or spag bol, as we prefer to call it!) can be just a matter of throwing some mince and tomato sauce together and serving it with pasta. But we’ve come up with some fun flavour twists, the family will be in for a surprise…


1. Spag bol with anchovies

These little canned or jarred fish add a real depth of flavour to lots of meat sauces without making them actually taste of fish (how do they do that?). You can either add them to your bolognese sauce as it’s reducing down so they melt into it, creating a lovely extra flavour dimension, or add them chopped as a garnish on top of your finished dish before serving. Give it a go! (Just be careful with seasoning as anchovies are very salty, so added salt probably won’t be required.)



2. Spag bol with porcini mushrooms

The intensity of reconstituted, dried porcini mushrooms adds a depth of flavour so enigmatic no-one will guess your secret ingredient. You’ll need to soak the mushrooms (or a pre-packed mixture of fancy mushrooms) for 10 minutes or so in boiling water, then use the mushrooms and their mushroomy water in your sauce for maximum impact.


3. Spag bol with instant coffee

Who on earth would have thought that coffee would enhance bolognese sauce? Well, if you add a teaspoon of instant coffee to some stock and then pour into the sauce, it actually adds more of a depth of flavour than a strong coffee taste. Give it a try before you dismiss it! 



4. Spag bol with red wine

If you cook your mince very slowly (perhaps in a slow-cooker) with plenty of seasoning and just a robust red wine, you won’t need stock of any sort. Just add seasoning and the flavour will be completely different from what you’re used to. You can add various herbs, too. Try a teaspoon of dried Italian mixed herbs (added at the start) or a tablespoon of fresh, chopped oregano (added towards the end) in the meat sauce.

Red wine


5. Spag bol with soffritto

Soffritto is the Italian name for a mixture of diced carrots, onion and celery, and you can either finely chop it yourself or find it, ready-prepared, in supermarkets. Adding it to your meat sauce while the mince is cooking down, so it has a good chance to soften, adds extra dimensions of flavour, colour and texture (and gets the whole family eating more veg than they even know about!). Because it’s finely chopped, it clings more easily to the pasta, too.


6. Spag bol with turkey

Turkey mince is lower in fat and a great substitute for red-meat mince. It does need more a flavour injection, though, so do taste your tomato sauce for seasoning and adjust it accordingly. Turkey mince does particularly well when it’s cooked long and slow, so a slow-cooker would be ideal for this dish. A few fried sage leaves scattered over the finished dish will go very well here.


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