This mushroom bolognese is a delicious and lighter take on the Italian classic. Along with the traditional vegetables (onion, celery, carrots) a mix of cremini and shiitake mushrooms make a hearty red wine and tomato infused sauce. It’s cooked long and slow to deepen the flavours of simple ingredients, creating a rich and flavorful sauce. Before serving it’s finished off with fresh parsley and basil, adding extra flavor and freshness.
While this mushroom bolognese sauce is not exactly authentic, it’s equally delicious for anyone looking for a plant-based alternative to the Italian classic. Serve with lots of freshly grated parmesan for a delicious meal.
Bolognese with a twist
This recipe of course, isn’t a traditional bolognese. It’s something of a ragù without being overly tomato-like, as with a marinara sauce. And it’s not necessarily very saucy. Mushrooms are the star, as they make a great meat alternative thanks to their meaty texture. And, since they have deep mushroom flavor and earthiness, I like to add a little extra acidity at the end of the recipe to balance things out. I find this especially important, since I choose not to go with an overly tomatoey sauce. Rather, one with hints of tomato, as I am using tomato paste, red wine and broth for the base. Apropos…wine. Choose one you also like to drink. This will give you the best results.
Tips for preparing this mushroom bolognese recipe
The mushrooms are chopped quite fine for this recipe, so if you want to avoid the extra work, I would suggest using a food processor for the cremini mushrooms. You can start by roughly chopping them by hand, then pulse a few times with short pulses in the food processor until chopped. Shiitakes on the other hand, are best chopped by hand. And of course, it depends on your personal preference how fine chopped you like your mushrooms for the sauce.
An important note on preparing mushrooms. They should NEVER be washed, only wiped clean. They are like sponges and quickly become water-logged if they come in contact with water. And since they also naturally hold moisture, for this recipe they are first slow-cooked to release the excess moisture, and sautéed until it evaporates. This also helps bring out their flavor.
Looking for other non-traditional bolognese inspiration?
Try one of these delicious recipes:
- Bolognese with Lentils and Salsiccia
- Vegan Bolognese Sauce (with Cauliflower & Walnut)
- Tagliatelle al Ragù (Classic Bolognese) with Veal
- Spaghetti Bolognese Meat Sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 250 g cremini mushrooms, finely diced
- 150 g shiitake mushrooms, finely diced
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 small yellow onions, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 celery stalk or small piece celery root (ca.50 g), finely diced
- 2 medium carrots, finely diced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup dry red wine (125 ml), preferably one you like to drink
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth (125 ml)
- 1/2 cup water (125 ml)
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- pinch of chili flakes (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (unfiltered)
- Generous handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Generous handful fresh basil leaves, slivered
- 400-500 g dry pasta of choice
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large pot or over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated.
Add the sprigs of thyme and cook for 1 minute, until aromatic. Then add the onion, garlic. celery, and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, 20 minutes.
Add the tomato paste, stir well, and cook for another 2 minutes (this helps it develop a more complex flavor).
Add the wine and cook, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the broth and water. Season with salt and pepper.
Increase the heat slightly to bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce heat to medium- low, and cook at a light simmer for another 30 minutes.
Stir in the vinegar, followed by the parsley and basil.
Meanwhile cook the pasta, according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Add pasta to the sauce and serve.
Drain the pasta and add it to pot with the bolognese sauce. Toss until well coated. Serve with a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
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