Vegan Bolognese with Mushrooms provides comparable richness and meaty texture to the classic ground meat sauce. Weeknight-friendly and great for make-ahead lunches.
The Best Vegan Bolognese:
This weeknight-friendly bolognese is a vegetarian take on the classic Italian ragù that features mushrooms, a slew of aromatics, and a couple secret umami boosters. It’s the “meatiest” meatless recipe in my dinner arsenal, and comes together in right under an hour.
Plus, it holds up incredibly well for leftovers, so consider dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow conquered.
It’s a delicious way to sneak in extra veggies, and guaranteed to win over the hearts of vegetarians and omnivores alike. So, are you ready to get your forks twirling?
How to Make Meatless Bolognese Sauce:
It’s no secret that traditional bolognese has a rich cast of meaty characters (sometimes up to three kinds of meat, plus cream and loads of cheese). Here, chopped mushrooms mimic the texture of ground meat while adding plenty of savory depth. Additionally, the classic trio of onions, carrots, and garlic add texture and rich aromatic flavor to the sauce.
In order to channel the umami goodness of classic bolognese, tomato paste is a must. Not only does it add color, body, and bright acidity, but it also ups the savoriness and complexity factor.
The trick, however, is to sizzle it in the pan until it turns brick red in color. Allowing it to caramelize takes away the raw tomato flavor, therefore unlocking its full flavor potential.
Another big umami booster is tamari, which may be somewhat unexpected. I like to think of tamari less as a Japanese condiment and more as a universal flavor booster for sauces and marinades. Tamari has a darker color and richer flavor than soy sauce, and is typically less salty.
Most bolognese sauces are finished with butter or cream, however this one leans on plant milk to achieve a full-bodied, dairy-free sauce. I suggest using cashew or almond milk for the neutral taste and creamy consistency.
If not making the bolognese vegan, use whole milk.
Lastly, if you give this recipe a try, be sure to tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your epic creations!
More Weeknight Pasta Recipes:
Vegan Mushroom Bolognese
- 2 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 8 oz. cremini mushrooms
- 8 oz. shiitake mushrooms
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion cut into segments
- 1 large carrot roughly chopped
- 4 oz. tomato paste
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped rosemary
- 1/2 cup dry red or white wine
- 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 3/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1 cup milk of choice (whole milk if not making vegan; unsweetened plant milk of choice for vegan)
- 1 Tbsp. lower-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 12 oz. tagliatelle or pappardelle pasta
- Fresh basil for garnish
- Toast fennel seeds and red pepper in a skillet over medium for 2 minutes, stirring often, until fragrant. Transfer to a food processor. Add cremini and shiitake mushrooms; pulse until finely chopped. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Add onion and carrot to food processor; pulse until finely chopped.
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high. Once hot, add mushroom mixture; cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown. Add onions and carrots; cook until softened, about 6 more minutes. Push vegetables to one side of the pan and add tomato paste, garlic, and rosemary to open side; cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in wine to deglaze and cook for 2 minutes, until most of the alcohol evaporates. Stir in salt, pepper, walnuts, milk, and soy sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, while you prepare pasta. (Sauce can simmer up to 2 hours in advance.)
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until almost al dente, about 1 minute less than package directions.
- Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with sauce. Add 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and cook, stirring often, until pasta is al dente and sauce is clinging to pasta, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; taste and adjust seasoning as needed (it may need more salt). Divide into each of 6 bowls and garnish with basil, if desired.