This delicious vegetarian version of Ragù alla Bolognese is a rich and flavourful mushroom, tomato and red wine sauce. It is completely based on my ragù recipe simply replacing the meat with finely chopped mushrooms and it is interchangeable in most recipes, when being used as a component part. I make another slightly different Lentil Bolognese but this mushroom recipe is slightly lighter and my preferred option for summer or when you prefer a light meal. It is also ideal when you have an abundance of side dishes such as garlic bread, caprese salad or you want to use it as a filling such as in lasagna or cannelloni.
Emma really loves this recipe. Although the mushroom flavour is not strong, it is a flavour she loves and comes back to time and time again. She also likes fact that the vegetables have been chopped finely giving the sauce a texture similar to the Ragù alla Bolognese she was used to eating. You can see this recipe here. This ragù was slightly adapted from a recipe by Nagi from Recipe Tin Eats.
How to make Vegetarian Bolognese
Although the ingredient list is quite long, the ingredients are easily available in your supermarket and there are a number you will more than likely have in your store cupboard.
dry red wine
Worcestershire Sauce (not classic but adds a lovely unami and depth of flavour to the dish)
fresh bay leaves (if available)
salt and pepper
To make this delicious sauce simply collect all your ingredients together. Prepare and chop the vegetables, add half the olive oil to the cast iron casserole dish and cook the onion, carrot, pepper and garlic for 10 minutes until lightly caramelised. It is worth taking the time to do this as it adds a delicious depth of flavour and sweetness to the dish. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms release their liquid. Cook this off, add the remaining olive oil and cook until softened. Around 5 minutes in total.
Add the wine and cook on high to reduce. Scrape up all the delicious sticky residue whilst you do this. Add the remainder of the ingredients, stir well and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer to a pre-heated oven and cook for 1 hour. Take it out of the oven and stir well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Cooking on the Hob
You could continue to cook the bolognese on the hob. Simply cover, turn the heat to very low and gently simmer. Cook for an hour, stirring from time to time. I personally prefer the oven as I can forget about it for an hour and not worry about it catching on the base of the pan or remembering to stir it. Your choice – both ways work well!
NB If you re in a hurry you could eat this sauce after 30 minutes cooking time. However, to achieve the best consistency and depth of flavour, I really recommend an hour.
Cooking in a Slow Cooker
Alternatively cook your bolognese in the Slow Cooker. Simply make as described in the recipe to the end of point 5. Transfer your mixture so far and then add the remaining ingredients to a slow cooker. Cook on high for 3 hours or on low for up 6 hours.
Vegetarian Bolognese is ideal for batch cooking and freezing. It freezes well and can be used in a variety of different ways. When batch cooking, I freeze in small portions. I freeze the food in a silicone muffin tray and then simply pop them out when frozen, and bag. You can then defrost as many as you need depending on the dish and number of people and because they are frozen in small amounts, they defrost quickly and easily. I realise however that you might think this is a bit fiddly; it is certainly more beneficial for small families or people wanting meals for just 1 or 2. If you are regularly cooking for larger numbers, you may wish to freeze in larger quantities.
A variety of recipes using Vegetarian Bolognese
Look out for the following recipes which I shall be posting on the blog:
Bolognese and Roast Mediterranean Vegetables Pasta Sauce
Bolognese and Roast Mediterranean Vegetables Pie
Baked Penne with Bolognese, Roast Mediterranean Vegetables and Burrata
Bolognese with Baked Potatoes, Parmesan, Mozzarella and Basil Pesto
Quesadilla with Bolognese, Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Pesto
Baked Capsicum stuffed with Bolognese, Orzo Pasta, Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese
Cheese Polenta with Bolognese Sauce and Garlic Mushrooms
Baked Courgette/Zucchini with Bolognese Sauce, Fresh tomatoes, Red Onion and Mozzarella
Bolognese with Courgettini, Spaghetti, Fresh Basil and Red Chilli
This delicious vegetarian version of Ragù alla Bolognese is a rich and flavourful mushroom, tomato and red wine sauce.
Lunch, Main Course, Supper
beef, Italian, tomato, red wine,, vegetarian
2 tablespoons olive oil
125g/1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
125g/1 carrot roughly chopped
150g/1 red pepper, stem and seeds removed, roughly chopped
16g/4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
250g mushrooms, roughly chopped
125ml/½ cup dry red wine (or substitute with water or stock)
400g passata (plus ½ cup of water to swill out the bottle/carton)
250ml vegetable stock
70g tomato puree/paste
¼ – ½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 sprigs fresh thyme (or ¼ tsp dried thyme)
¼ – ½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to Fan Oven 130°C/150°C/300°F/Gas 2
Prepare the onion, carrot, pepper and garlic. Tip into a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. If you prefer you can chop the vegetables by hand.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the cast iron casserole pan, over a medium heat and add the onion, carrot, pepper and garlic. Cook for 5 – 10 minutes, until softened and slightly caramelised.
Prepare the mushrooms. Tip into a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. If you prefer you can chop the mushrooms by hand.
Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until the liquid comes out. Continue to cook until it disappears, add the remaining olive oil and cook until soft. This should take around 5 minutes in total.
Add the wine and cook on high until reduced by half. Remember to scrape up the delicious sticky residue left by cooking the vegetables.
Add all the remaining ingredients to the cast iron casserole dish. Start with ¼ teaspoon of sugar only and add more to taste. Stir well and bring to a gentle simmer.
Cover with the lid and cook in the oven for 1 hour, until the vegetables are very soft and the liquid has reduced a little. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Chopping board and knife
Kitchen scales and measuring cups and spoons
Cast iron casserole/Dutch oven/saucepan
Serve with spaghetti:
This recipe is most commonly served with spaghetti. I would allow 100g spaghetti per person.
Cook the spaghetti in salted water as described on the packet, minus one minute
Remove 250ml/1 cup of cooking water from the pasta and then drain the pasta in a sieve or colander.
Add the pasta to the sauce with 1 – 2 tablespoons cooking water per person.
Toss the pasta and meat sauce and continue to cook for 2 minutes until the sauce thickens and is coating the pasta. Add more cooking water if necessary.
Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and shredded basil.
I serve my pasta sauce as they do in Italy – with the sauce just coating the pasta. Emma prefers more sauce on her pasta than me – just go with your own personal taste! Eat it just the way you like it!