Long before we decided to go all out veggie I started working on creating a vegetarian bolognese that was just as good, if not better, than the meaty favourite. Spaghetti bolognese is a reliable comfort food in our house, whether it’s for an after school dinner or for an easy Saturday night supper, bolognese is a firm family favourite. This vegetarian version is better than any meaty version I have ever made. It had to be good, you can’t mess around with a family favourite and fail, the disappointment is bitter, trust me.
This vegetarian bolognese started out very differently, I had tried many different variations, not all cut the mustard. Some failed completely. I still have the scars from the daggers my daughter threw, she loves her bolognese more than she loves me I think! You might think that a veggie bolognese is easy, but if you want it to stand up to the original meat version it’s not. This bolognese is the result of a very tried and tested recipe that never fails to satisfy even the most dedicated of meat eaters.
Now, this is not a quick recipe and the recipe list may look long but you will probably have all the ingredients in your cupboards anyway. The only ingredients you may need to buy are those dried porcini mushrooms and the lentils. To save me time and effort I use ready-cooked Puy lentils, these are added close to the end of cooking and give this vegetarian bolognese that meaty texture and flavour.
This vegetarian bolognese is deep and rich and full of flavour. The red wine is optional and if you are serving this to young ones then I would omit it altogether. You can switch out the soy sauce for tamari if you want to keep this gluten-free. And if you wish to make this vegan, just make sure the red wine is vegan and use a vegan hard cheese for serving, and voila a vegan bolognese!
What’s so good about this vegetarian bolognese? This vegetarian bolognese is:
- low in fat
- high in fibre
- packed with veggies
- a good source of protein
- easy to make
- easy to freeze
- seriously tasty
Can I freeze this Vegetarian Bolognese?
Yes! This is perfect for freezing. Don’t add the parsley, remove the bay leaves and thyme then leave the bolognese to cool. Divide the sauce into freezable containers or bags. Label the bags/containers clearly then freeze. Use within a month and defrost thoroughly before reheating. Add the parsley before serving.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion (220g) chopped
- 1 large carrot (200g) peeled then chopped
- 1 stalk of celery finley chopped
- 4 fat cloves of garlic minced
- 250 g chestnut mushrooms wiped clean then sliced
- 25 g dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 red bell pepper (180g) pith and seeds removed then chopped
- 250 g cooked Puy lentils I used pre-cooked lentils
- 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
- 60 ml red wine optional
- 690 g passata
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 200 ml water
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar optional
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 or 7 sprigs of thyme
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- A small handful of flat leaf parsley chopped
- Some grated vegetarian parmesan style cheese for serving
- Add the porcini mushrooms to a small bowl, cover with just boiled water and leave to soften for about 30 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes over a medium heat, until the onion is soft.Then add the carrot, celery, garlic and oregano and cook for 5 minutes.
- Turn up the heat then add the wine. Stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes.Once the wine has bubbled down a bit turn the heat to medium. Add the chestnut mushrooms and bell pepper to the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes then add the passata. Pour about 200 ml of tap water into the passata jar, give it a little swirl then add to the pan.
- Now stir in the tomato puree, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and drop in the bay leaves and sprigs of thyme.Drain the porcini mushrooms, reserving 3 tablespoons of the water. Add that mushroom water to the pan.
- Finely chop the porcini mushrooms then add them to the pan. Add the salt and pepper, stir well then reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After 20 minutes add the lentils then simmer again for 5 minutes.Check the seasoning now.The sauce should be nice and thick. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs before serving.Stir in the chopped parsley and serve with spaghetti or linguine, some grated vegetarian parmesan-style cheese and crusty bread for soaking up any leftover sauce.
- Calories are approximate and do not include pasta or cheese
- To make this dish gluten-free, use tamari instead of soy sauce.
- If you wish to make this vegan, make sure the red wine is vegan and use a vegan Italian style hard cheese.
- This can be frozen please see post for instructions.
- If you are serving this to young children please omit the red wine.
- We serve this with linguine but spaghetti, tagliatelle or other pasta shapes works well with this too.
- If you are on a very low carb diet then quinoa or courgetti works well and you may want to omit the wine also.