Now that it’s getting distinctly autumnal, I’ve been trying to recreate a pasta sauce I had in an Italian restaurant in Berlin a few years ago. No idea if it’s authentic Italian – it has a central European flavour – but it’s easy to make, and very tasty.


500 g diced beef – stewing beef or similar

1 onion, finely chopped

2 medium carrots, finely chopped

1 leek, finely chopped

3 celery sticks, finely chopped

3 – 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped

1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

a knob of butter

a tsp of olive oil

salt & pepper

Pasta – I prefer penne or spirali.


Bring the beef to room temperature. Season with salt & pepper.

Heat the oil in a heavy casserole pan on a high-ish heat; once it’s hot, add the butter, and wait for the butter to melt. Then fry the diced beef until it has a bit of colour. Remove from pan and set aside.

Reduce the heat a little. Add the onion to the fat, and fry for a minute, then add garlic, leek, celery and carrots. Reduce the heat a little, and cook over a low-medium heat until they take on a little colour.

Add meat back to the pan, add paprika, fennel seeds and rosemary; stir together so the meat and veg are coated. Cook over medium heat for around 10 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low-ish, and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. The lower the heat, the longer you should cook; the longer you cook, the better the flavour.

Boil some salted water, cook the pasta, and mix with the pasta sauce. Serve with grated or shaved parmesan.