This is my best-ever Ultimate Vegan Bolognese Sauce recipe. Once you try it you’ll agree: it hits the spot every time!
Did I tell you that my boyfriend is one-quarter Italian?
It turns out that 75% French and 25% Italian = 100% Foodie.
I think his food tastes lean slightly towards Italian cuisine.
When he’s craving something hearty and delicious, he’s more likely to request a pasta bolognese than to seek out a savory stew.
Now, it’s not always easy to create plant-based versions of his favorite foods.
After careful deliberation and testing, I’m happy to present my best-ever vegan bolognese sauce.
This sauce is thick, savory, and just the tiniest bit sweet.
The texture is crumbly and silky, just as it should be.
Vegan Bolognese Sauce: The Details
To replace the meat, I used a mixture of mushrooms, ground walnuts, and textured soy protein.
I’ve seen more than one lentil bolognese recipe, but for me that texture just isn’t right.
I used to be a bit sketched out by TSP (or TVP as it is sometimes called). I don’t know why, and now I use it all the time. It’s also great as taco ‘meat’, and it’s even gluten free.
Since I’m over in France, I don’t have access to the same ingredients as I do in the U.S. Here’s what my package looked like:
If I was Stateside I’d use this brand which is my very favorite.
To achieve the lusciously thick texture of the sauce I used coconut oil and agar agar powder instead of butter.
For extra umami flavor I added miso paste and used soy sauce instead of salt.
As a vegetarian, I was tempted to keep the traditional parmesan cheese and milk in this sauce. If you consume dairy products, by all means swap these into the sauce for an awesome vegetarian bolognese sauce.
Instead, I tried using nutritional yeast and oat milk.
I’m super pleased with the results: a delicious vegan bolognese anyone would be happy to eat!
Like a traditional bolognese, there’s surprisingly little tomato in this recipe. Instead, lots of celery, carrot, and onion are slowly cooked down into a robust sauce.
Of course, there’s also plenty of red wine in there, too. Be sure to read my post on vegetarian food and wine pairings if you want to make sure your wine isn’t made with animal products.
Now, this isn’t a twenty-minute recipe you can whip up on a whim. This is more of a weekend recipe.
I recommend making it on a lazy Sunday. Ideally, you should spend the day reading and inhaling the delicious aroma of the simmering sauce.
This recipe makes a decent-sized batch, so you can always freeze the leftovers and serve it up for an impromptu date-night.
Are you wondering how my other half liked the vegan bolognese sauce?
In his words, “It’s not meat, but it’s delicious.”
I replied with, “It’s not meat AND it’s delicious!” <–Two wins in my book.
I have to admit, I had to do a bit of googling when naming this recipe. We use the word ‘bolognese’ all the time in our house, but I rarely see it spelled out.
It occured to me that it might be spelled ‘bolognaise’, which I found out is a very common mispelling. In case you were also wondering, the proper Italian spelling is, in fact, ‘bolognese.’
Either way, it’s absolutely delicious!
Here’s Your Vegan Bolognese Recipe!
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium carrot, finely diced
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 3 celery stalks, finely diced
- 2 ounces raw walnuts
- 3 cups raw mushrooms, halved (about 10-12 cremini)
- 3/4 cup TVP mince (dry)
- Herbs: 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme , 1/4 teaspoon dried sage, 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
- 1 tablespoon white miso
- 1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon agar agar
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup oat milk (or other non-dairy)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Salt to taste
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Once the oil is hot, add the carrots, onions, and celery. Saute for 10 minutes, until softened.
- Meanwhile, place the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse into coarse pieces. Add the mushrooms and continue to pulse until the consistency of the mixture resembles the photo above.
- Once the vegetables on the stove are soft, add the dry TVP and mix well. Cook for 3 minutes to allow the TVP to toast and absorb the oil.
- Add another two tablespoons of oil to the pan along with the walnut/mushroom mix. Turn the heat up to medium-high and brown for 5 minutes.
- Add the oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and garlic to the pan. Cook for a few minutes until the spice are fragrant, then add the red wine. Reduce for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the miso, soy, sweet and smoked paprikas, and agar agar. Add the canned tomatoes along with 1/2 a can of water, the balsamic vinegar, and bay leaves. Once the mixture boils, transfer it to the preheated oven. Cook, uncovered, for 60 minutes. Stir well and return to he oven for a further 30 minutes.
- Add the nutritional yeast followed by the oat milk. Taste and season generously with black pepper and salt to taste. Serve with freshly cooked plant-based pasta.
- Cast Iron Dutch Oven
- Agar Powder
- Shiro Miso Paste
- Food Processor Attachment with Commercial Style Dicing Kit
- Bob's Red Mill High Protein T.v.p., Textured Vegetable Protein, 10 oz
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Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 3/4 cup
Amount Per ServingCalories 271 Total Fat 16g Saturated Fat 3g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 13g Cholesterol 13mg Sodium 328mg Carbohydrates 13g Fiber 4g Sugar 5g Protein 13g