Vegetable Bogolnese! Yes, you heard it right! What comes to your mind when you think of bolognese sauce? I am sure, hours of sweating, sautéing and braising and the end result be the classic Italian meat sauce, bursting with flavors and the tantalizing aroma of the slow-cooked sauce generously ladled over spaghetti.. Okay! I know some of you are already hypnotized. So, being a vegetarian, I have never cooked or tasted the traditional bolognese, but whenever I go to a restaurant I always get stuck on any pasta with bolognese sauce thinking of how this sauce tastes like and wishing secretly if any day i would ever find a restaurant serving a vegetarian version of this sauce. And the impatient me, couldn’t wait for that day to come and hence decided to make my own vegetable bolognese.
My prime aim in making this sauce is to recreate the very same textured, rich and oh so very tasty bolognese sauce. And one more thing to add, this sauce is completely vegan. Now I know, many of you might be skeptical about this, but trust me vegan sauces taste just as good, and in some cases, even better. In this recipe, I have put together a variety of ingredients (yes, vegan all the way), to make a delicious and rich veggie version of this all-time-favorite sauce. Starting with the goodness of olive oil, to all the garden fresh vegetables, this sauce is perfect. Not to mention the nutty flavor of the grated cauliflower and the texture and slight bite of the mushrooms and zucchini. Combined with the zestful tang from lovely San Marzano and heirloom tomatoes and the vibrant seasoning with basil leaves and thyme, this sauce is my favorite recipe for any occasion.
And ya! Not to forget, I have paired this sauce with polenta. I love how its creamy taste and texture compliments the chunky and rich bolognese. And most of all, it’s naturally gluten-free. Here I have added milk and butter to polenta, but all my vegan friends out there can substitute milk and butter with soy milk and vegan margarine. Or you can also serve this sauce over your choice of whole wheat pasta.
The given recipe serves up to 4.
For the veg-bolognese sauce –
– 1 large yellow onion, chopped
– 5 garlic cloves, minced
– 2 carrots, chopped
– 1 red bell pepper, chopped
– 1 zucchini, chopped
– ½ cup grated cauliflower
– 1 cup spinach, chopped
– 2 cups mushrooms (combination of cremini, shiitake and oyster), chopped
– 1 can San Marzano tomatoes
– 1 cup heirloom tomatoes
– 2 tablespoons fresh thyme/ 1 tablespoon dried thyme
– 1 cup white wine or vegetable stock
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– Salt and pepper, to taste
– ½ cup fresh basil leaves
– 1 teaspoon sugar
For polenta –
– ½ cup instant polenta
– 1 cup water
– 1 cup milk (whole or reduced fat)
– 1 tablespoon butter
– Salt and pepper, to taste
– 1 cup corn kernels
To make the sauce-
– Heat olive oil in a pan.
– Add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes. Then add carrots and let it soften for another 5 minutes.
– Now add garlic, bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, cauliflower, thyme, salt and pepper to the pan. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
– Once done, stir in the canned san marzano tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes. Mix thoroughly.
– Add a cup of white wine or vegetable stock to it and let it cook on low heat for another 20 minutes.
– Once it is cooked properly, adjust the seasoning. Also add a teaspoon of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
– Add fresh basil leaves and mix well. The sauce is now ready to serve.
To make polenta:
– In a pan, add water and milk. Let it come to a boil.
– Reduce the heat and slowly add the polenta while whisking with a fork to prevent clumping.
– Now add salt, pepper, butter and corn kernels to it.
– Continue stirring for the next 3-4 minutes, or till you get the desired consistency. Ta-da…! Your polenta is done. If you like softer polenta, serve it immediately, without letting it cool down and get hard.
Now, scoop the polenta into a bowl, pour the sauce over it, and enjoy this creamy, delicious and fulfilling meal, to your heart’s content. I swear I am in love with this one and hope you guys will be too!