florentine ragù

Lindsey Bareham

This is an old favourite, made slightly differently each time but always with shredded spinach stirred in right at the end. This particular version is made with minced beef but I often use lamb or half ‘n half. The seasoning is red wine and basil, the latter because I have so much homegrown basil to use up. Serve over pasta with lashings of freshly grated Parmesan.

serves 4, prep 20 min, cook 60 min

1 onion
1 tbsp olive oil
3 carrots
2 garlic cloves
500g minced beef or lamb
½ tbsp flour
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 glass red wine
100ml milk
250ml chicken stock (cube is fine)
6 basil leaves or 1 tsp chopped thyme
100g spinach
Parmesan to serve


Halve, peel and finely chop the onion. Heat the oil in a spacious frying pan over a medium-low heat, stir in the onion with a generous pinch of salt. Cook for 5 min while you scrap the carrot, quarter lengthways and slice across in tiny dice. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Stir both into the onion, cook for a 5 min, increase the heat slightly and crumble the meat into the veg, stirring as it browns. Dust with flour, stirring until disappeared.

Stir in the tomato puree and red wine, followed by milk and then stock and shredded basil or thyme. Establish a steady simmer then transfer to a medium, lidded pan. Cover and simmer gently for 30 min, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and simmer for a further 15 min. Season to taste. Fold in shredded spinach, serve now or later over butter-tossed pasta with freshly grated Parmesan