Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese {Vegan}

Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese

As a vegetarian who also likes to explore and create in the kitchen, I always find it intriguing to come up with vegetarian versions of classic dishes where meat is a signature element of the dish. Spaghetti bolognese is one such popular dish found in restaurants all over the world where it is usually served as a plate of spaghetti topped with a more-or-less thick tomato and meat sauce.

Despite its popularity worldwide, you may be hard pressed to find spaghetti bolognese in Italy however. What passes for a bolognese sauce here in North America should probably be more properly described as a ragu sauce from southern Italy where tomatoes grow in abundance. So while a bolognese sauce and a southern Italian ragu sauce both consist of minced meat (usually beef, but occasionally pork, chicken or even fish) cooked with onions and carrots and frequently celery, a bolognese sauce depends much less or not at all on the addition of tomatoes and is also made with white wine. Moreover, a bolognese sauce is never served with spaghetti and is mixed in with the pasta — usually tagliatelle but almost always a wider shaped pasta — rather than served over top.

These distinctions aside, my main concern was to find a vegetarian alternative that did not contain meat of any kind but stayed true to the consistency and flavors of a spaghetti bolognese. Minced mushrooms are such an obvious choice to replace the meat in this sauce to provide the earthy and meaty flavor and texture of minced meat. Red wine instead of white wine also gives the sauce a depth of flavor. True to some more modern versions of bolognese sauce, I included a minimal amount of tomato and some garlic and herbs to round out the taste. Mixed into the pasta rather than served over top, the sauce was very thick, rich and smoky, and turned out to make it perhaps the most enjoyable spaghetti meal that I can remember.

Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese

I did use spaghetti made out of kamut grains instead of durum wheat. Kamut spaghetti can usually be found in most natural food stores and often in many supermarkets. If you can find it, kamut spaghetti has a nutty flavor on its own that perfectly complemented the sauce — in fact, it's delicious just on its own — but this vegan spaghetti bolognese will delight your diners using regular spaghetti too. I will leave the question of whether this vegan sauce is a bolognese or ragu — or something else altogether — up to culinary connoisseurs.

Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese {Vegan}Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese {Vegan}
Recipe by
Cuisine: Italian
Published on April 30, 2019

Rich, smoky and delicious vegan version of the classic Italian spaghetti bolognese

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

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  • 4 to 5 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, drained and minced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs (675 g) cremini mushrooms, minced
  • 1 large red onion, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 1 large carrot, minced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons tamari (soy) sauce
  • sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 lb (450 g) spaghetti (I used kamut spaghetti)
  • vegan Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, trimmed and chopped, for garnish (optional)
  • Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes until softened. Drain and finely chop. Set aside.

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the mushrooms and season with a bit of sea salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid is reduced and the mushrooms are browned. This should take about 10 to 12 minutes. Turn up the heat slightly part way through the cooking time. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.

  • Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Set the heat to medium and add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Now stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, fresh tomato, tomato paste, red wine, balsamic vinegar, oregano, bay leaf, paprika, chili power and tamari. Mix well to combine, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring often, for about 10 minutes to thicken the mixture.

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. When boiling, stir in the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and drain the pasta.

  • Season the sauce with salt and pepper and stir in the mushrooms and reserved pasta cooking liquid. Simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring often.

  • Transfer the cooked and drained pasta back to the pot and pour the sauce over top. Stir well to coat.

  • Serve hot or warm, garnished with a generous helping of vegan Parmesan and chopped herbs if desired.

Makes 6 servings

Vegan Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese

Other pasta dishes to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Lemony Pasta with Broccoli and Chickpeas
Pasta Shells with Roasted Vegetables and Black Olives
Penne with a Spicy Eggplant and Mushroom Tomato Sauce
Spinach Pesto Pasta
Zesty Green Pea and JalapeƱo Pesto Pasta

On the top of the reading stack: Teff Love: Adventures in Vegan Ethiopian Cooking

Audio Accompaniment: Shallow by Porya Hatami

1 comment:

Juhi said...

made this for dinner today and we all love it including my toddler! thank you once again for a hit recipe! (I used whole wheat spaghetti cuz that's what I found! thanks for mentioning that this would go especially well with whole wheat grain pasta--you're right! the nutty flavor pairs especially well with this sauce!) thanks once again!