Vegetarian Bolognese
Vegetarian Bolognese

Vegetarian Bolognese is a rich, delicious pasta sauce that cannot be missed. Roasting cauliflower and mushrooms deepens the flavor of this filling dinner. Double the recipe to eat some now and freeze some for later.

Traditionally, Bolognese is a time-consuming, rich, and heavily flavored broth. The meat adds body and umami, but you don’t need meat to make a nice Bolognese.

The manufacturing process isn’t a smash in terms of time, but it does offer cooking therapy. As the steps occupy your mind, you can begin to focus on the moment, which is a good thing during challenging times.

The cauliflower and mushrooms will roast in the oven while you start the sauce. Roasting concentrates and deepens their flavor as you move on to the next steps on the stovetop.

What is bolognese sauce?

As the name suggests, Bolognese sauce originated in Bologna, Italy. It is a thick meat sauce made from ground beef or a combination of ground beef such as pork, beef, and veal.

Typically, it begins with a soffritto (finely chopped carrots, celery, and onions) gently simmered in butter. Milk or cream, white wine and a small amount of tomato enrich the sauce.

The ingredients are added gradually, with each ingredient taking time to cook before adding the next ingredient. When they’re all in the pot, the sauce simmers for three to four hours for a finished product that’s more meat than tomatoes and has a very rich and luscious texture.

How to make the best vegetarian bolognese

It won’t take you hours to cook this sauce, although it’s not a toss-in-the-pan meal. If you pay careful attention to each step, you will achieve delicious results.

While the meat version has a soffritto, ground beef, milk, and wine added gradually to deepen the flavors, the veg version uses a few different tricks to tease out savory flavors from the veggies.

These are:

  • Fry the onions until golden brown.
  • Roast some tomato paste in the pan.
  • Roast the cauliflower and mushrooms in the oven.

These little movements will take your sauce from so-so to so-so delicious. Lentils add protein and thicken the sauce, giving it a consistency similar to meat sauce.

ingredient substitutions

If you don’t have all the ingredients for this recipe, it’s easiest to consider substitutions once you know what purpose they serve.

  • cauliflower: Has a neutral flavor that blends seamlessly with the tomato sauce. When chopped into small pieces, it adds thickness and texture to the sauce. You can use crumbled textured vegetable protein, small cubes of firm tofu, or roasted chopped carrots and celery.
  • Mushrooms: Adds an umami flavor and can be substituted with the above ingredients or crumbled seitan. Seitan, made from fermented soybeans or whole grains, has a nutty flavor.

Which lenses are best?

Small lentils mimic the texture of ground beef while adding extra protein in this veggie sauce.

Depending on the variety you choose, you may need to adjust the cooking time. Also, since the sauce is being prepared in a large skillet or sauté pan, more water or vegetable stock may be required as the liquid in the large skillet will evaporate with prolonged cooking. You’re looking for a consistency that isn’t soupy, but at the same time isn’t so thick that it’s not pourable. Such as meaty bolognese sauce!

  • Red or yellow lentils are soft after 15 to 20 minutes of cooking I prefer the red variety mainly because it is quicker to prepare.
  • you could use French green (Puy) lentils and black lentils. They hold their shape as they cook, but take longer to soften.

How to store and freeze vegetarian bolognese

This is a great sauce to double with. Use some now and save the rest for another day when you’re too tired to cook but don’t feel like pizza.

The refrigerator: The sauce will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate within two hours of cooking the sauce.

The freezer: For best flavor, use frozen sauce within four to six months. The sauce can be eaten for up to a year. If thawed in the fridge, it will keep in the fridge for another 3-4 days. Use the microwaveable sauce immediately after reheating.

More great vegetarian cauliflower recipes

  • Cauliflower Steak Sandwiches with Pepper Aioli
  • Fried Cauliflower Rice
  • Cauliflower Chickpea Curry
  • Cauliflower Gnocchi (Trader Joe’s Copycat!)
  • Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos with Ranch Sauce

Vegetarian Bolognese

preparation time
15 minutes

cooking time
45 minutes

total time
60 minutes

6 servings


for the sauce

  • 1 medium head cauliflower (1 3/4 pounds) quartered, seeded and thickly sliced

  • 1 lb Crime or white mushrooms

  • 6 tablespoon olive oildivided

  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

  • 1 big yellow onionfinely diced

  • 3 cloves garlicchopped

  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 Cup dry White wine

  • 1 (28 ounces) can crushed tomatoes

  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water

  • 1/3 Cup small Red lenses

For the noodles

  • 1 lb Spaghetti, Linguine, pappardelle or fettuccine

  • 2 tablespoon chopped parsleyfor garnish

  • 1/2 Cup Finely grated Parmesanfor garnish, optional

special equipment

  • food processor


  1. Preheat the oven:

    Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

  2. Cut and prepare cauliflower:

    Pulse the machine in a food processor to chop the cauliflower into small pieces. They don’t make cauliflower rice, so stop pulsing when the cauliflower is finely chopped with a few small pieces. mound in the center of one of the baking sheets.

    Sprinkle the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Toss to coat and spread on the baking sheet in a single layer.

  3. Chop and prepare mushrooms:

    Without washing the food processor, add the mushrooms to the bowl and pulse the machine until the mushrooms are finely chopped. Mound in center of other baking sheet.

    Sprinkle the mushrooms with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Turn to brush with the oil and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet.

  4. Fry the vegetables:

    Place the two baking sheets in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower is golden brown around the edges and the mushrooms have given off a lot of moisture and are dark (don’t worry, the mushrooms will shrink a lot, which is okay.)

  5. Meanwhile, cook the onions and garlic:

    In a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until golden brown. If the onions stick to the bottom of the pan, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time to loosen them. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.

  6. Fry the tomato paste and add the wine:

    Push the onions and garlic to one side of the pan and move the pan so the onions are away from the heat. In the free space add the tomato paste and the sugar. Cook, stirring, about 3 minutes or until the tomato paste turns a dark rust red.

    Place the pan over the stove and stir in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has evaporated.

  7. Boil sauce:

    Add tomatoes, water or broth, lentils, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to pan and bring to a boil. Cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until lentils are tender. (If using French green lentils, cover the pot to reduce evaporation of the liquid.)

    The exact cooking time depends on what type of lentils you used.

  8. End of sauce:

    Stir in the mushrooms and cauliflower and simmer for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Depending on the type of lentils used, the sauce may be thick. If so, use the pasta cooking water to dilute it to your desired consistency. Keep the sauce on low so it’s warm while you cook the pasta.

  9. Cook pasta:

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta of your choice according to package directions. Skim off 1 cup of the pasta water, reserving to thin the sauce if needed. Drain noodles in a colander.

    If your sauce looks too thick, gradually stir in some pasta water until you get the consistency you want.

  10. Surcharge:

    Heap a nest of pasta on a plate, scoop some sauce over them and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley, if using.

nutritional information (per serving)
400 calories
17g Fat
48g carbohydrates
14g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!