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finished pasta 2

One of the things about cooking quick weeknight meals for the kids is that we seem to end up eating a lot of mince, whether beef, chicken or lamb. While obviously you can make great meals with mince, they can end up being pretty meat heavy.

frying mince

This dish takes the basic idea of a sort of Spaghetti Bolognese, and makes it a less meat-focused dish, with a wonderful combination of flavours – though the reduced emphasis on meat is a bit ironic given that the recipe was sourced originally from a Meat and Livestock Australia brochure!

add artichokes, capers and zucchini

I particularly love the combination of eggplant, capers and artichokes, though zucchini (which I’ve used in this version) or spinach instead of the eggplant is also good. I used some fantastic Australian salted capers, but it’s still delicious with the kind in brine.

Nelshaby Australian capers

Pasta with beef, eggplant and artichokes

Originally adapted from a recipe that I think came from Meat and Livestock Australia

Serves four, generously

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 medium eggplant or two zucchini
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 2 x 400g (14 oz) tins tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g tin artichoke hearts
  • 1 Tbs capers (preferably salted)
  • handful of fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • approx 500g short pasta

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the mince over medium/high heat, stirring often to break up clumps. Reduce heat slightly and cook, stirring occasionally for at least 10 minutes until well browned.

Finely chop the celery and onion, or whizz briefly in a food processor. Add the onion and celery to the pan, and continue cooking over fairly low heat for another five minutes. Add the zucchini or eggplant, tomato paste and a pinch of salt and fry another couple of minutes.

Add crushed tinned tomatoes, drained and quartered artichokes, capers, and salt and freshly ground pepper. If you use salted capers you probably won’t need much extra salt.

Simmer over low heat for about 20 min until eggplant is tender. If you use zucchini it will be a bit quicker. Keep the heat low, and if the sauce sticks add a little water. While sauce is simmering, cook pasta according to packet directions.

Sprinkle sauce with basil, and serve over pasta with parmesan. I ran out of basil so grabbed some rocket from the garden and chopped that over the top instead.