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Paleo spaghetti Bolognese with zucchini noodles

Paleo Spaghetti Bolognese With Zucchini Noodles

  • Author: Irena Macri
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Slow Cooked
  • Cuisine: Italian


Using a few special (easy to find) ingredients, my paleo spaghetti Bolognese is rich, hearty, complex and irresittably delicious for the whole family. Serve the meat sauce over zucchini spaghetti noodles or regular or gluten-free pasta.



Bolognese meat sauce

  • 3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 45 pancetta slices, finely diced (bacon rashers are fine)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 celery rib, finely diced
  • 1.5 lb / 700 g grass-fed beef mince
  • 0.6 lb / 300 g ground free-range pork mince
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 800 g or 2 cans tomato passata or chopped tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 30 ml / 1 fl oz. port or dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (it should be gluten-free)
  • 2.5 teaspoons salt
  • 0.5 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika powder
  • 1 star anise (1 star pod, this is my secret ingredient)
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 0.5 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 0.5 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • To finish: 1 tablespoon butter or ghee (optional)

For zucchini noodles

  • 4 medium green zucchinis
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • A good pinch of salt
  • You will need a veggie spiralizer or a peeler to make noodles


  1. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy saucepan. Sauté onions, pancetta, carrots and celery on medium heat until golden and soft. Remove to a bowl.
  2. Add another tablespoon of olive oil, ground beef and pork to the saucepan and turn the heat up to high. Break the meat apart into the small piece using a spatula or potato mash (that’s my little trick). Cook on high heat until the colour changes from red to desaturated brown. Stir frequently to make sure all bits are cooked evenly. This should take about 8-10 minutes and some of the juices will evaporate in the process. 
  3. Keeping the heat high, add garlic and red wine and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add back the sautéed vegetables and all remaining ingredients except for butter/ghee. Stir and bring to boil then turn the heat down to a simmer (medium-low). Cook covered with a lid for 1 hour. Stir through every 20 minutes or so. 
  4. After an hour, remove the lid and cook uncovered for another hour, stirring occasionally. Finally, bring the heat up to medium-high, add a dollop of butter or ghee, if using, and let the sauce bubble away for 5 minutes to complete the thickening of the sauce. If not using, turn the heat off let the sauce stand for a bit to settle.
  5. In the final 30 minutes of the sauce cooking, prepare the zucchini noodles or zucchini spaghetti. You can use a spiralizer or a carrot peeler to shave them into ribbons, which will be more like fettuccine rather than spaghetti. 
  6. Heat a large frying pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil to sizzling hot. Add the lemon zest and zucchini strips and sauté on high heat for 30 seconds. You want to warm the zucchini noodles but not cook them, as want a slightly crunchy, ‘al dente’ texture. If you cook them for too long you’ll end up with soggy vegetables. Season with a little salt right at the end. 
  7. Serve zucchini ‘spaghetti’ with Bolognese ragu sauce and some fresh thyme and lemon zest scattered on top. You can grate some Parmesan or Pecorino cheese if you eat dairy or sprinkle the dish with nutritional yeast flakes or homemade paleo Parmesan (check out this recipe form a fellow blogger).


This recipe makes a large batch of the sauce so you can use the leftover for lunch the next day or to make other dishes; you can also freeze it for 3-4 months.


  • Serving Size: 1 cup sauce
  • Calories: 591
  • Sugar: 9.5 g
  • Sodium: 1397.6 mg
  • Fat: 38.4 g
  • Saturated Fat: 12.8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 16.3 g
  • Fiber: 4.7 g
  • Protein: 39.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 122.3 mg
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