Simple Pasta Bolognese
Bolognese is a meal that is so comforting. It makes me think of home, feel relaxed and safe. When I get to choose what meal I eat the night before a race, or even if I’m racing late in the evening then for my lunch that day, then I will always choose a classic pasta bolognese. It is such a simple and comforting bowl of food that is easy to digest and provides plenty of readily available energy. I can trust that eating it won’t disagree with me, make me feel sick or sit in my stomach taking ages to digest and preventing me from sleeping. These are considerations that I must make when preparing for an important race. The last thing I want is to get ill.
When I am away in hotels it’s hard to always guarantee that there will be a bolognese available but it’s such a popular dish that it often is. I have tried so many different variations in my time. Obviously I prefer the healthier versions with plenty of meat to sauce ratio that hasn’t had red wine or lots of olive oil added to it. I also prefer it if the mince meat is nice and lean, not fatty and there is a good variety of vegetables added in to the sauce. Unfortunately I don’t always get this and I’ve had a fair few terrible Bolognese’s in my time, but I’ve never got ill from one.
The version I make reflects my preferences. My rule of thumb is to add a minimum of 3 vegetables in the sauce, one of which has to be tomatoes. I also prefer to add pepper as my second and then the third alternates between mushrooms, carrot or courgette. I like to add a handful of lentils to bulk out the sauce and to help thicken it, I don’t like it to have too much fluid. Personally I prefer pasta, like penne or fusilli as it is much easier and less messy to eat than spaghetti. Apart from all that though I like to keep it as simple as possible. If I’m making this sauce because I am racing the next day then I leave out the chilli, otherwise it gives it a nice extra flavour. I made this version the day before we flew out to the World Championships rather than the day before I race, so the chilli went in. I used courgette as my third vegetable as that was what was left in my fridge but my preference is to add mushrooms.