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Recipe: Slow Cooked Beef Ragù

Post workout, it's vital that we fuel our bodies with the right nutrition to aid the repair and recovery process.

When we lift weights, we cause tiny microtears to the muscle fibres that the body subsequently works to repair, helping us come back fitter and stronger for next time. To facilitate this process, we require dietary protein.

Animal proteins are complete or first class proteins, meaning that they contain all of the essential amino acids that our body's need, but can't synthesise by themselves.

When we work out, we also increase the demand for carbohydrate.

Carbohydrate is utilised both as the body's preferred energy source during exercise, but also plays an essential role post workout, in fuelling the recovery process.

Carbohydrate, particularly white carbs like pasta, are often vilified by dieters, but they're a great source of energy and play an important role in keeping you feeling satiated. Instead of steering clear (or just measuring out the same amount as you would do as standard), consider adjusting your portion size depending on how active you've been and how hungry you're feeling.

Exercise aside, when it comes to good nutrition, it's also important that we keep things balanced and varied.

With some animal protein and some pasta, this recipe's got the macronutrients covered, but our body's require a diverse range of vitamins and minerals to keep them functioning optimally. The simplest way to achieve this is to add as much variety to your diet as possible. Spruce things up! Get experimental with flavours and textures and make your plate colourful.

In this recipe, you'll be getting extra goodness from the tomatoes, onions and parsley. You could also try adding grated carrot or chopped peppers to the ragù, but serving a dish like this with a side salad is my favourite - and an easy - way of boosting nutrient intake.

This is a great recipe to cook in bulk and then freeze in portion-sized bags, letting you whip up a healthy, home cooked meal at short notice.

Makes 6-8 Servings

Divide up and freeze in individual portions for quick and easy mid-week dinners.


  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 small red onions, finely chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed or grated

  • 4 rashers of smoked bacon, or use streaky bacon or pancetta if your beef mince is low fat (less than 10%), chopped

  • 500g high welfare beef mince

  • 2 tbsp rose harissa paste. I use Belazu 

  • Soy sauce, to taste. The bacon will provide some saltiness, so just add additional soy sauce according to taste.

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or 175ml red wine

  • 2 x 400g cartons tomato passata

  • Black pepper, to taste

  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped

To Serve

  • Fresh or dried pasta, cooked according to packet instructions

  • A side salad of mixed leaves. I use rocket, spinach and watercress, dressed with a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar

  • Parmesan, shaved


  • Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat.

  • Add the chopped onion and sauté for a couple of minutes, until the onion begins to soften.

  • Add the crushed garlic and stir for another minute, then add the chopped bacon.

  • Stir for another couple of minutes, until the bacon is cooked through and any fat has browned and gone slightly crispy (this will give more flavour), then add the beef mince.

  • Keep the beef mince moving in the pan; you want to brown the meat evenly, so break up any larger pieces using your spoon or spatula.

  • Once the beef is cooked through, add the harissa paste and cook for further minute.

  • Add the balsamic vinegar or red wine and cook this in for another minute or two, then add a little soy sauce (keep it to just a little at this stage, until you taste test it; you can always add more later if you'd like it a bit saltier).

  • Add the tomato passata, swirling a little bit of water round the cartons to make sure you get all the passata out, and adding this to the pan too. Don't worry if it all looks a little watery at this stage, you're going to cook it long and slow, so a lot of the liquid will evaporate.

  • Bring everything to a simmer, add a little black pepper, then turn the heat to low.

  • Leave the pan uncovered and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for at least an hour. You're aiming for tender meat and a nice thick, rich consistency, rather than a watery sauce where the constituent ingredients still look like separate entities.

  • Add more soy sauce and black pepper if required. Then once you're happy with the flavour and consistency, remove from the heat and stir in the chopped parsley.

  • Serve immediately with cooked pasta, parmesan shavings and a green salad. Alternatively, allow to cool and freeze in individual portions, ready to get out of the freezer, defrost and reheat for a quick and easy mid-week dinner.


Per 100g

Per serve (approx. 150g)

Calories (kcal)

217 kcal

325 kcal


6.4 g

9.6 g

of which sugars

4.4 g

6.6 g


9.9 g

14.8 g

of which saturates

3.1 g

4.7 g


21.8 g

32.7 g


1.5 g

2.2 g


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