Beef & Broccoli Pasta

When I was growing up one of my favourite dishes was something my called “Goulash”. This Americanised version of the traditional Hungarian dish was simple, involving elbow macaroni, browned beef mince and a tin of tomato soup. It was heavenly; the ultimate childhood comfort food playing second only to spaghetti with shop bought Ragu sauce poured over the top. I’m still known to indulge in such a luxury, on occasion.

Louisa at Eat Your Veg and Vanesther
at Bangers & Mash are after quick meal
ideas this month for Family Foodies.

I’m currently in the middle of a store-cupboard/freezer emptying phase. In the Autumn I have a tendency to hoard foodstuffs, mostly freezable items like meat, fruit and veg, and I stockpile tinned foods, just in case the ferries to Shetland are delayed for an extended period of time due to inclement weather. I am reminded of that time, not too long ago (1995), when the Shetland Islands Council declared a state of emergency because the roads in Shetland were impassable and the electricity had been off for days because of the snow. Food was delivered to the more remote island locations via the RNLI lifeboats!

It’s March now so the threat of being cut off from the mainland has eased somewhat and I’m emptying out the winter stores. I’m determined to make it until April before I have to head back to the supermarket in town (a half hours’ drive) for provisions. Ideally, when my veg box delivery starts up again I will aim to make this town trip just once a month, saving fuel and supporting local producers.

This beef and broccoli pasta dish, thrown together at the last minute with bits and bobs I found in the darkest depths of the deep freezer was a resounding success. I hadn’t planned on blogging it, just throwing things together without thinking, but it was that delicious I didn’t want to forget the recipe and I want to share it with you all! I’m also linking it up with a new blogging challenge: Extra Veg co-hosted by Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle at Utterly Scrummy since this dish has extra veg in it, when compared to the quick pasta dishes I grew up with.

Pasta Please, a blogging challenge by
Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes and host-
ed by Michelle at Utterly Scrummy this
month. Theme: tomatoes.

The sauce is Jamie Oliver’s basic tomato sauce, something I make quite frequently for home made pizza, freezing half for later use in pizza or quick pasta dishes. There are always a few forgotten bags lurking in the bottom of the freezer. To make the sauce fry one or two large cloves of chopped garlic in 2 tbsps olive oil in a medium sized saucepan for about one minute. Crumble in one dried chilli, add 2 tsps dried oregano and 3 tins of Italian plum tomatoes. Simmer gently (with the lid off) for around one hour until it reduces into a nice, thick tomato sauce. When it’s nice and thick stir in 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil and a generous handful or two of fresh herbs: basil, parsley, marjoram, whatever you have on hand. (Recipe from The Naked Chef 1999). It only takes five minutes to prepare this sauce, so when you get an extra moment you can make a batch, divide it in half and freeze it for later. You’ll never buy shop bought tomato sauce again! The tomatoes I buy are only 39 pence a can too, making this a very economical sauce.

Next, the afters. There was half a tub of Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge Frosting in the fridge left over from our youngest’s Transformers Birthday Cake last week (yes, sometimes I cheat!) needing made into something before I attacked it with a spoon in a sugar-craving frenzy some late evening.

While digging around in the deep freeze opening random unlabelled plastic containers I found one filled with the severed tops of the mini Shetland Flag-topped seaweed and lemon fairy cakes I’d made for the Shetland Food Fair last Autumn. Half of these I whizzed in the food processor into crumbs and stirred enough into the room temperature chocolate fudge frosting until it was thick enough to roll into one inch balls. They were left in the fridge for half an hour to chill and harden.

Meanwhile, I dug out the leftover bits of broken chocolate pieces I was sent home with after a recent local SWRI sweetie making demonstration I taught (a mostly successful endeavour – it was, after all, my first attempt at such a thing but everyone had a fab time, they tell me, so all was well!). This 70% dark chocolate was melted and the frosting/cake truffle balls dipped in to coat. The remaining melted chocolate was poured into a silicone number mould, sprinkled with chopped pecans and sultanas, and left to harden in the fridge for twenty minutes until our weekly family Games Night commenced.

All in all – yum! I’m quite proud of my successful store cupboard/freezer feast.

Beef & Broccoli Pasta
A quick and hearty midweek pasta dinner.
  • 300 grams dried fusilli pasta
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 500 grams lean beef mince
  • 220 grams broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1/2 batch Jamie Oliver’s basic tomato sauce (see above in-text for recipe)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 Knorr beef stock cube
  • 150 ml pasta water
  • 200 grams mature cheddar cheese, grated, to serve
  • cayenne or paprika, to serve
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and splash a bit of olive oil in it. Cook pasta until al dente, for 12 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a heavy sauté pan. Sauté onion and celery for about five minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.
3. Add beef mince and season with plenty of sea salt. Stir frequently, breaking up the bits of meat with a wooden spoon. Cook until meat is browned nicely.
4. Add broccoli, tomato sauce, tomato purée and beef stock. Season well with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce is thick and reduced.
5. Stir sauce into pasta and serve immediately, with plenty of grated mature cheddar cheese and cayenne/paprika for those who want a little extra kick.

Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Serves 4 adults (or two adults and three hungry children!)



    We had goulash too and quite often what we called ‘Sunday’s Slops’! Basically Sunday roast leftovers with whatever came to hand & served with rice or pasta – good old comfort food!

  2. Holly Chandler says

    Fab recipe, just making a copy of this – if thats okay. My son HATES broccoli but loves beefy pasta.. going to give this go! x

  3. says

    We have some left over cooked brisket in the fridge and I was wondering what to do with it other than a cottage pie.
    Beef and broccoli are a lovely combination. Thanks for the recipe.

  4. says

    Right at the moment I am a bit in a pasta mood myself. That Jamie Oliver tomato sauce has already been stored to my brain, so I can use it every time I’m in need. Shetland really sounds like a lovely and interesting place to be.
    Anyway, I would go for your beef and broccoli pasta, too. Sounds like a winning dish. My mum sometimes made pasta with goulash, with big chunks of beef and … without any vegs. So, your veg version sounds better.

    • says

      Jamie’s pasta sauce is such a fantastic, versatile tomato sauce, I think. Yes, Shetland is a lovely and interesting place to be, especially this time of year with the longer days and the migrating birds. Flowers are starting to appear to. :) Glad you like the sound of my pasta dish!

  5. says

    Love, love, love! I adore dishes that invent themselves as you take the ingredients out of the fridge. Whenever I see mince I immediately think bolognese, but next time I’m going to give this gorgeous recipe a go. Thanks for sharing in this month’s Family Foodies challenge – a perfect entry :)

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