Vegan "Bolognese"


This should really be called The Incredible Mushroom Bolognese as it is pretty damn tasty.  I don’t really eat meat anymore and I don’t miss it.  BUT there is something that I do miss, and that is a classic ragu!  I make a mean one with 3 different types of meat from my Capri cookbook and I have been dreaming of a more plant based version since I reduced my meat intake.  This is an awesome recipe as is has huge depth of flavour and I think that it has the same satisfaction that you get from a traditional spag bol.  For additions, if you have a few gratings of nutmeg in the cupboard then you can add this.  I used rosemary but you could use thyme or both or even dried oregano would be good too.  You could put 3 sticks of diced celery instead of a courgette.  I would also recommend a diced, fried aubergine if you wanted some added texture.  This would go in with the leek and carrots but fried separately like the mushrooms. Similar to a normal bolognese, this gets better with time so its even better the next day.  It also freezes really well! 

I hope you love this and will give it a go instead of using meat, as it’s bloody good!

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cooking time: 1hr 12mins


Serves 4


3 tbsp olive oil

650-700g mushrooms, roughly chopped into quarters for the blender

1 leek, thinly sliced

4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1cm circles

2 red onions, peel and chopped into sixths

5 sprigs of rosemary, leaves removed and roughly chopped (about a large handful)

3 tbsp tomato purée

14 garlic cloves, peeled

250ml red wine (basically a full wine glass)

1 medium courgette, roughly chopped into chunks

2 tins plum tomatoes, (800g)

1 cube vegetable stock 

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp soya sauce (tamari will keep this gluten-free)

Sea salt and black pepper

Begin by pulse blending the mushrooms in batches.  You want a fine consistency but careful not to blend for too long to avoid them going mushy.  When you are half way blending them, put a large saucepan on a medium heat and add some of the blended mushrooms to the pan to fry.  You don’t need any oil here but just season then lightly with salt and pepper.  Fry for about 2-3 minutes until the moisture has evaporated and scrape onto a plate.  Continue frying and blending the mushrooms simultaneously until you have finished.  

While you finish frying the mushrooms you can begin blending the rest of the ingredients.  Add the red onion into the blender and pulse blend to cut into small pieces.  Place these on a plate.  Then do the same with the garlic, followed by the courgette.  Arrange in separate piles on the same plate as the red onion. After 10 minutes you should have finished frying the mushrooms.  Using the same pan, add the olive oil followed by the chopped leek, carrots, red onion and chopped rosemary.  Mix everything together and fry for about 4 minutes.  Then add in tomato purée and stir for 1 minute before adding in the chopped garlic.  Allow this to fry for another minute before pouring in the red wine.  Allow the alcohol to evaporate for 2 minutes before adding in the chopped courgette, mushrooms, plum tomatoes, plus 1 tin full of water, veg stock cube (crumbled in), sugar, salt and pepper.  Bring to the boil and then down to a simmer for 1 hour.  Be sure to stir the sauce every so often.  Then stir in the tablespoons of soya sauce and check the seasoning.  Add more salt and pepper if needed and allow to simmer for another 12 minutes or so.

10 minutes before the sauce is done you can put some water on to boil your pasta.  It’s usually 80g dried spaghetti per person and make sure you salt the water.  Serve al dente with the sauce stirred through.  I mentioned earlier that this sauce’s flavour intensifies over time, so its great to make the night before.

Please let me know what you think.  I love hearing from you and getting feedback!  Of course if there is anything that you would like me to create.  Please write in the comments below.

Nina Parker1 Comment