The Best Vegetable Bolognese
The Best Vegetable Bolognese- a plant-based take on classic bolognese that’s bursting with umami flavor. Perfect for special occasions and holidays!
We’re officially less than one week away from Christmas! I don’t know about you guys but I’m gearing up to eat all the Italian food and cookies my stomach handle. We always eat Italian for Christmas in my family and it’s pretty much the best thing ever.
It’s been 5 years since we’ve been home for the holidays so I’ve gotten used to cooking my own Italian meals. This vegetable bolognese happens to be one of our all-time favorites.
The first time I made it was when we were just starting to eat vegetarian. I had no clue what to cook and turned to the all mighty Giada for help. I know she cooks a lot of meaty dishes but you’d be surprised by how many amazing vegetarian recipes she has up her sleeve, including this vegetable bolognese. Brandon and I went nuts the first time we tried it and it’s been a staple ever since.
Red pepper, onion, carrots, and mushrooms are finely chopped and cooked with red wine, tomato paste, herbs, and rehydrated mushroom liquid. I know that last part might sound complicated but all you have to do is soak dried mushrooms in hot water until they release their flavorful juices. It’s so simple and it makes a world of difference for the palate.
Even though I’ve been making this recipe for 10 years it wasn’t until recently that I thought to make it entirely plant-based. I did this by cutting out the parmesan and the mascarpone then replacing them with cashew cream blended with miso, lemon juice and nutritional yeast.
That’s probably considered blasphemy to a true Italian but I can tell you with all honestly that this version is just as good. If you’re looking for a special plant-based meal that will knock everyone’s socks off, this is IT!
The Best Vegetable Bolognese
Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
1 cup raw cashews
1 ounce dried mushrooms (I like porcini)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons fresh or dried thyme
1 teaspoon fresh or dried oregano
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine (such as cabernet, merlot or pinot noir)
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 tablespoon miso
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lb rigatoni pasta (preferably whole grain)*
In a small pot, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Turn off the heat, add the raw cashews and allow to soak for 30 minutes.
In a measuring cup, microwave 1 cup water for 2 minutes, or heat until boiling. Add the dried mushrooms and allow to soak for at least 15 minutes.
Using a food processor, finely chop the onion, red pepper, garlic and carrot. In a large pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the finely chopped vegetables, sprinkle with salted pepper, and cook for 5 minutes.
Separate the dried mushrooms from the hot water (while reserving liquid for later) and finely chop them, discarding any hard pieces. Stir in the tomato paste, herbs, chopped mushrooms and rehydrated mushrooms. Cook for another 3 minutes then pour in the reserved mushroom liquid and red wine. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, until liquid has reduced by half.
Strain the excess water from the cashews then add them to a blender. Add 1/4 cup water, lemon juice, salt, nutritional yeast, and miso then blend on high until smooth. Transfer the cream to the pot and stir together until evenly distributed.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare the pasta as directed. When pasta is tender, reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water then strain the rest. Add the cooked pasta and the reserved water to the pot with the bolognese. Stir until evenly coated then serve warm with fresh thyme and cashew parmesan (optional- see notes).
*Substitute gluten-free pasta to make this GF. You can use any shape pasta but we like it best with rigatoni.
To make your own cashew parmesan cheese, combine 1 cup raw cashews with 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.
Nutrition Facts are for 1/8th of recipe
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis