vegetarian bolognese


To be clear, I still love bacon and eat meat - but I'm trying to improve my diet. Normally I would have made a traditional bolognese like this one but was inspired to make a vegetarian version. And that is the reason why I bought tofu for the first time in my life. I figured that when I started to look for a vegetarian option I was going to get stuck with lentils, but that was not that case here. This recipe came from Camille Styles.

An expected win for this meal was that it is super affordable. The unexpected win was that it was INCREDIBLY delicious. I was beyond surprised at how flavorful and tasty this was without meat. I even made the jump to a vegan cheese - and that was good too. While it will be hard to get some people in my life to knowingly eat tofu, I think that I can trick them into it. 

I do think there are a couple things that you really must do to have success here. One is chop the veggies relatively small. Not mince them or anything like that - but small, especially the mushrooms. The second key is to actually let the mixture simmer for a full 45 minutes. I was surprised at how much the consistency changed. This recipe will absolutely be on a regular rotation in my house going forward.

  1. Drain the tofu between paper towels for 10 minutes, squeezing out as much excess water as possible. Crumble into small pieces and set aside.
  2. In a large dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat, then add onion, garlic, carrots, celery, mushrooms, crumbled tofu, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Stir everything together, and cook until vegetables are softened and tofu is turning golden/brown, about 20 minutes. (The mixture will start out looking way too wet, and by this point it should have mostly dried out and developed some caramelization, and tofu should be crumbly, not mushy.)
  3. Add tomatoes and sugar, then let simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Stir in butter.
  4. Cook pasta as directed and divide among bowls. Top with bolognese, parmesan, and basil. Season with salt and pepper, and eat!
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 package extra-firm tofu
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 large carrots, chopped small
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 cups chopped mushrooms (chopped small, but not too fine)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound pasta
for topping: lots of freshly grated parmesan, basil leaves, salt and pepper

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