The Best Ever Vegan Bolognese
This is a take on the somewhat traditional ragu that originated in Imola, Italy, which is near Bologna, circa the 18th century. The chef who created this served the local Cardinal, who would later become Pope Pius VII. I'll spare you the details of what typically goes into it, along with the explanation of my variation, until later. In the meantime, please enjoy the recipe below!:
This recipe creates a pasta dish for one, with leftover pasta for the next day, plus a reserve of sauce that can be frozen for up to 4 months and reheated when you're having a craving.
- 1 yellow onion, diced, peel and root composted
- 1 large celery stalk, chopped, ends removed and composted
- 1 large carrot, unpeeled and chopped, ends composted
- 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced, peels composted
- 1 16-oz package Beyond Beef
- 1 cup vegan white wine
- 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes (Cento preferred)
- Several sprigs of flat-leaf Italian parsley and a few basil leaves, roughly chopped, stems composted
- Salt, freshly ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 1/2 lb short pasta, cooked according to package directions
Pour 1/4 cup good quality olive oil to a wide saucepan and bring to a shimmer over medium heat. Add the soffrito, which is the fancy name for the Italian mirepoix of onion, carrot, and celery, with garlic mixed in. Sprinkle with a healthy pinch of salt and stir to combine.
Once the veggies are softened but not browned, create space in the center of the pan and add the remaining olive oil. Add the Beyond Beef in that space and sprinkle generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use your wooden spoon to break the vegan beef up and combine with the veggies. Turn the heat up to medium high and allow to brown. (Note: Beyond will give off a lot of pea protein liquid, so be patient and allow it to brown in its slow, happy time.) Stir a few times to ensure relatively even browning.
When the Beyond Beef is browned and beginning to stick to the pan, add the wine and scrape the frond into the mixture. Allow to cook on medium high heat until the wine is almost gone, then add the tomatoes. Swish some water in the can and pour that into your saucepan, stirring to incorporate nicely. Add a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes, plus a little more ground black pepper. Keep the can with some water in it for later, if needed.
Turn the heat to low and go find something fun to do while the beautiful scent permeates the house. You're going to be eating in about an hour to an hour and a half. Stir the sauce from time to time, adding a little water from the can if the sauce is thickening up past your liking.
Get your pasta water going with a healthy handful of salt. While that comes to a boil, chop your herbs. Be sure not to make them so small that they totally infuse into the sauce; you want some greenery for color and flavor.
Once the water is ready, add the pasta and set your timer. Meanwhile, add the herbs to the sauce and stir, and turn off the heat. When the pasta is cooked, reserve a half cup of pasta water and drain the pasta in a colander.
In the same pot you cooked the pasta in, add a large spoonful of the sauce and about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water. Place the pasta back into the pot and stir to incorporate the flavor into each bite of pasta.
Serve the pasta with more sauce on top, and some basil for beauty and flavor!
Bolognese is traditionally made with beef, pork, or veal, along with tomato paste and milk. Since most of that is animal-based, I created this beauty to satisfy my craving for something hearty and plant-based. One could use Impossible Beef in this recipe as well, although I'm personally more partial to Beyond.
The health benefits of this dish are fantastic! In the soffrito alone, you have asthma-fighting onions, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial garlic, carrots full of beta carotene, and teeth-brightening, hydrating celery. Tomatoes are well known in Italy for reducing the risk of prostate cancer when 10 servings of the whole item are eaten each week. Wine contains resveratrol, which keeps us younger with those lovely antioxidants. Parsley removes heavy metals from the body, and basil is a great digestive aid. Plus, they're both very easy to grow in morning sun, which makes them perfect for any size garden!
This is a very low waste, inexpensive meal that can be stretched for a crowd with more pasta, and reserved for one or two diners. Please give it a try, and let me know what you think!
Be well in every cell,