Meatfree Pasta Bolognese (Vegan)
Updated: Feb 17, 2021
My Meat-Free Pasta Bolognese is a bold and perfectly reminiscent of the Italian classic we all know and love.
Most of us can agree that a traditional beef Bolognese made with beef and pork, is delicious, hearty and filling – I can feel full with just a small serving. However, my vegan version of this classic Italian dish, is big on flavour without the heaviness of a meat-based Bolognese!
Even a generous serving leaves me feeling light and satisfied.
Whether it be a date night meal or weekday dinner, this is such a sophisticated vegan pasta dish, perfect for any occasion.
My vegan friendly pasta Bolognese pairs beautifully with a glass of red wine.
Note - this recipe is VEGAN & VEGETARIAN!
What's the mince?!
The “mince” is a combination of ground mushrooms and cauliflower – which when prepared according to my recipe, provide the perfect texture for our pasta dish.
Your food processor is going to be your best friend when it comes to this recipe. Not only does it cut your prep time by more than 50% - it also lends a perfect uniform grain size that is key to getting this meaty texture in the sauce.
Choosing the perfect Cauliflower:
The size of the cauliflower head doesn’t affect its quality. Any leaves that remain should be green and crisp.
Small leaves growing between the florets are not a sign of poor quality; just pull them out before you cook the cauliflower.
Some stores also sell packaged florets that have been trimmed off the head. These too should be free of bruises or spots.
-The cauliflower should be clean and firm, with florets that are white or creamy-white.
-The cauliflower should not be soft or have brown hues.
-The leaves should be green and crisp, not wilted.
-Packaged cauliflower florets precut, should be free of bruises or spots.
-For my cauliflower, I use a FRESH, unpackaged head of cauliflower and cut it into quarters because packaged veg sometimes spoil more quickly, and I like choosing my veg through sight and touch.
-For my tomato paste, I use the Mutti Brand.
-For my garlic paste, I always use the Gourmet Garden brand sold in the fresh herbs chilled section at Woolworths & Coles. This is the closest you can get to fresh peeled and crushed garlic, without that rancid bitter taste. Please note this contains Whey so it is not Vegan suitable.
Serves : 4
200g Brown Mushrooms (Swiss Brown / Portobello)
1/4 Of A Medium Head Of Cauliflower
3 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Large Brown Onion, Finely Chopped
6 Garlic Cloves, Thinly Sliced / ½ Tbsp Garlic Paste
1-2 Tsp Dried Chilli Flakes
1 Tsp Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp Double-Concentrated Tomato Paste (Mutti Brand)
1 Tsp Worcester Sauce (Vegans Can Use Soy Sauce)
2 Tbsp White Wine
1/2 Beef Flavoured Stock Cube (Can Use Vegan Beef Cube)
Cracked Black Pepper
2 Cups Rigatoni Or Calamarata Pasta (Reserve 1 Cup Boiled Pasta Water)
1/4 Cup Finely Grated Parmesan Plus More For Serving (Vegan Parmesan for Vegan Mod)
1 Tbsp. Finely Chopped Parsley For Garnish
1 Wedge Lemon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1. On medium speed, grind the brown mushrooms in a food processor until they are finely chopped. It should resemble ground beef mince.
2. Transfer this ground mushroom mixture to a small bowl and set aside.
3. Now process the cauliflower in the food processor until mixture resembles rice/coarse sand then transfer to another bowl (it’s ok if they aren’t all uniform in size).
4. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large deep-frying pan or saucepan over medium-high. Then add ground mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, around 10 minutes.
5. It is important to ensure the mushroom browns nicely as this is where the flavor builds.
6. Once mushroom is brown and dried up a bit, add 1/2 beef stock cube, 2 tbsp water and mix for 2 minutes.
7. Add the chopped onion along with 1 more tbsp of olive oil to mixture and stir -keep cooking until the onion is limp and golden brown, around 8 minutes. Do not burn this mix.
8. Now, push the mushroom onion mix to one side of the pan and heat 2 tsp olive oil in the other side – add the chilli flakes and garlic paste to it and mix well for 30 seconds. Mix this into the mushroom onion mixture until well incorporated.
9. Now add the white wine and let the mixture sizzle - mix for 2 minutes.
10. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste has slightly darkened and well combined with the mushroom mixture. This will take around 2 mins of mixing.
11. Add ground cauliflower to the mushroom mixture and cook until the cauliflower has cooked down slightly, and the mixture is not as wet. This will take around 5-10 minutes of cooking with no lid.
12. Add 1 tsp Worcester sauce to the pan along with 1 tsp oregano and stir until well combined. Set this aside, with the heat off.
13. Now cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until almost al dente, around 9-10 minutes.
14. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pasta to our mushroom cauliflower mixture and turn the heat back on – medium flame.
15. Add 1 cup of hot pasta cooking water to the sauce and evenly scatter 1/4 cup of fresh grated parmesan. Use the pan handle to immediately swirl the pasta into the sauce so it evenly coats each pasta piece. Use a spoon to help if required.
16. Cook the pasta with the sauce stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente and sauce is clinging to it, about 2 minutes. We want a medium viscosity, silky sauce so adjust the consistency by adding more pasta water if required.
17. Taste the sauce to ensure you are satisfied with the salt level (add more salt if required).
18. Once you are happy with the seasoning and consistency, turn the heat off and squeeze the lemon wedge over pasta and toss once more.
19. Garnish with fine chopped parsley.
20. Serve pasta with more parmesan on top and a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
I hope you enjoy this wonderful vegan recipe, do let me know how you go!
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