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This vegan bolognese sauce is a tomato-free sauce made for those that do not tolerate meat or tomato products. In my family, Bolognese was a staple meal that was delicious, inexpensive and filling for the entire family to enjoy when I was growing up. While my eating habits and dietary needs have evolved with my adulthood, I still crave foods that have fond memories attached to them, such as bolognese.
What is Bolognese?
Bolognese is an Italian sauce that is often compared to Ragu made up of flavorful aromatics, wine, beef, and tomato. While the two sauces are different due to the wine of choice, bolognese was traditionally made with veal and pancetta while evolving to home cooks and chefs utilizing beef and even meats like bison (my personal favorite if eating red meat.)
While the sauce may have changed over the years between chefs, the pasta of choice is almost always tagliatelle pasta. This is a delicious egg-based pasta that’s found dried in small nests to portion. I have included my favorite gluten-free version below.
Bolognese will almost always have various renditions, yet the true original recipe contained very little tomato, to begin with. That leads me into the version I’ve included below sprouts from dietary changes that I had to make. While I’ve cooked a nearly identical classical version for my clients, I enjoy this recipe as well.
Traditional Bolognese vs. This Recipe
In a traditional bolognese sauce, you will find similar ingredients such as carrots, celery, onion, herbs, tomatoes, and beef. While the tomato will provide a lighter taste profile, the peppers’ bitterness must be balanced with a touch of sweetness. Tomatoes in a traditional bolognese sauce recipe contribute to the flavor in a different way when compared to this sauce. This recipe will be smokier in flavor due to the vegan meat choice. Additionally, the largest difference with this bolognese sauce is that it removes the two main ingredients that help to build the flavor. Peppers will create a lower acidity level, however a more bitter flavoring that requires balance.
How To Choose Vegan Bolognese “Meat”
When using vegan meat, it’s important to understand that it may require additional work. Since it’s not actual meat there will be obvious differences such as the flavor profile, texture, as well as nutrition. Nutritionally speaking, there are very few meat alternatives that I recommend. Oil is the main ingredient in almost all vegan meats on the market. To me, this isn’t worth the stomach upset that typically follows, even from a sustainability perspective. The reason I make a blunt statement like so is that: there are other options. In any of my vegan meat recipes that you will find on my website, you’ll notice that I only use two products that are pre-made. I have attached them below while using singular ingredients in other “vegan meat” dishes.
Aside from nutrient-density (or lack thereof), it’s important to understand that vegan meat will require manipulation as it’s not real meat with the true flavors. Manipulation can look like utilizing ingredients such as smoked salts, Worcestershire sauce, or liquid aminos/soy sauce.
Additionally, memory will play a large role in understanding seasonings for these types of dishes while those who have not eaten meat may have a harder understanding of how to season accordingly. In a nutshell, in order to reinvent a classic, you must understand the classic.
Vegan Tomato-free Bolognese
- 1 tbsp Divided: olive oil, garlic oil, vegan butter, or ghee Use garlic oil from our roasted garlic recipe!
- 2.5 cups veggie broth or water from pepper jar/can
- 2 large carrots about 1 cup
- 1 medium yellow onion about 1 cup
- 1-2 dr. praegers perfect burger
- ⅔ cup sunflower family hache
- 1-2 tsp dried basil
- 2-3 tsp organic light brown sugar or maple syrup brown sugar will taste more authentic
- 1 bay leaf
- Fresh oregano
- 1 large can red pepper
- 3-4 tbsp roasted garlic paste see recipe
- 2 tbsp liquid aminos
- 1.5-2 tbsp salt unless your stock is salted which is likeely
- grated nutmeg (FRESH) as desired (around 1/4 tsp recommended)
- 1 tbsp garlic oil
- Start off by washing all of your produce. Allow to dry slightly.
- Using a chefs knife, cut the onion, peeled celery, and onion into small diced pieces. Keep divided.
- Using your oil/butter/ghee of choice, add it to a hot pan and follow with your onions.
- Allow the onions to cook until they are translucent. Once this occurs, add in your celery and carrots and cook for a few more minutes.
- While the mixture cooks, pull apart your defrosted Dr. Praegers meat mixture and add it to your pan on medium to high heat, making room for it in your pan. Be sure that there is enough oil at the base of the pan so that it can really brown properly.
- Allow the vegan meat to brown, making sure not to turn it too quickly and continue to break it apart so that it resembles ground meat more.
- Once this is browned, add in your hache, as well as your veggie broth. Depending on the liquid aminos or salty flavoring of choice, you'll need to adapt the recipe slightly to suit your needs.
- Next, blend your peppers in a food processer or a blender until fully blended, removing the liquid. It's important to use the canned or jarred peppers as they have already been cooked. Reserve
- Allow the hache to take on the moisture and add in your seasonings, except for the maple, salt, nutmeg, and blended peppers.
- Once the seasonings have been added, allow the aromatics to be stirred and become fragrant. Follow with your blended peppers and simmer on low for 25 minutes.
- Once your mixture has simmered, taste your vegan bolognese and add in your maple, salt, and nutmeg as desired. If it is slightly bitter, maple will help to balance it.
- Taste and adjust. I typically add nutmeg until I can truly taste it, however it is my personal preference.
- Follow with making your tagliattele, strain, top, & enjoy!
More Recipes To Enjoy With This Vegan Bolognese
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