Mighty Meatless Bolognese

Easy, tasty, healthy, this Bolognese sauce has all the love and flavour of Italy without the meat! My husband prefers the real beef-made Bolognese sauce, but he gave me the BIG thumbs-up for this one. đź‘Ť

At the outset, I wanted to add red lentils to the TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) soy granules. Then, I wanted to add brown lentils. Then, I realized that I would end up with a dish that was closer to Indian dal than Italian sauce.

So, I scratched the lentils and decided to give the sauce a more authentic “Bolognese” taste and texture by mixing together the TVP granules with walnuts and chopped mushrooms—often the main ingredients in the making of veggie burgers.

In this sauce, the walnuts, TVP and mushroom mixture lends a rich, umami taste and meaty texture. It’s also a heart-healthy alternative to ground beef. TVP is low in fat and high in protein and fibre. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly copper, magnesium and folate. It is a great addition to various vegetarian or vegan meals because it adds texture and absorbs the flavour of the spices, herbs and vegetables that you are using.

Mushrooms contain protein and fibre, but are also a great source of Vitamins B and D as well as the antioxidant selenium, which helps support your immune system and prevent damage to cells and tissues. You can’t go wrong with mushrooms: they are low in sodium, fat-free and cholesterol-free.

If you are not allergic to walnuts, I recommend adding them to this recipe. They are important for your brain, heart, skin, blood and bones. They contain a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. The fatty acids in walnuts promote healthy brain function, lower cholesterol and improve the quality and elasticity of your arteries.

Excluding or reducing your meat intake promotes health and helps the environment because it reduces your environmental impact on the planet. Consuming less beef is a great way to limit your carbon footprint and contributes to fighting global warming.

Below, is the recipe for meatless Bolognese.

Meatless Bolognese Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • Pasta of choice
  • 2 cups (200 grams) brown cremini mushrooms, chopped (see procedure)
  • 1 cup (90 grams) walnuts
  • 1 cup dry TVP granules (Textured Vegetable Protein) + 1/4 cup boiling water to hydrate
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 2 medium cooking onions, chopped small
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, grated
  • A few dashes of Worcestershire or “Worcester” sauce, vegan or standard
  • Salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1 cup dry white wine or vegetable broth
  • 1 X 700 ml bottle Passata tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of water
  • Toppings: grated Parmesan & red pepper flakes
All the ingredients for making Meatless Bolognese sauce
Small-size TVP granules (Textured Vegetable Protein soy granules)
Nutritional yeast flakes

PROCEDURE

Prepare and measure all ingredients.

1. Wash and chop the mushrooms so that they are about the same size as the walnuts (see below).

2. Transfer the walnuts and chopped mushrooms into the bowl of your food processor and pulse a few times in increments of a few seconds to obtain course pieces.

Needs a few more seconds of pulsing.
Yep! This is good!

3. Transfer mushroom and walnut mixture to a medium-size bowl and set aside.

4. In a small bowl, add the one cup of TVP granules. Add 1/4 cup of boiled water to the TVP and fluff it up with a fork to hydrate the granules.

Hydrated TVP granules

5. Transfer the hydrated TVP to the mushroom & walnut mixture. Mix with a fork and set aside.

Mushroom, walnut and TVP mixture.

6. In a big pot on stove top heat up 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, reduce heat and add the celery, onions and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes until soft. Add a bit of water if sticking to bottom.

7. Add the TVP, mushroom and walnut mixture to the onion, celery and garlic mixture and mix. On medium-high heat, cook the mixture for 8 to 10 minutes, tossing frequently. Adjust heat. The mushrooms, TVP and walnuts need to cook through.

8. Half way through cooking time, add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, salt, ground pepper, oregano and thyme. Keep tossing.

9. After 8-10 minutes of cooking, add the white wine and stir. Adjust or lower heat. Add the tomato sauce and mix. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a gentle boil. Keep mixing. Add 1 cup of water into the tomato sauce bottle and give it shake to gather any leftover tomato sauce in it. Pour about 1/2 cup of that water into the sauce and mix. Add the tomato paste and the nutritional yeast. Mix well, adjust heat to maintain a gentle boil. Add an extra 1/2 cup of water, if need be. Mix well.

10. Allow to simmer gently on a low heat with cover on for 25-30 minutes, stirring from time to time, and adjusting heat, if need be.

11. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste and serve on cooked pasta of choice and toss. Enjoy with grated Parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Can I get any closer? It’s like real meat Bolognese sauce without the meat!
Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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