One of our favourite comfort meals, particularly when we have just returned home from a long haul trip, is Spaghetti Bolognese. Spaghetti Bolognese is what I knew as ‘Spaghetti with Meat Sauce’ when I was a child in Canada. The thing is my family and I are really trying to cut back on the amount of meat we eat. I’m always looking for ways to make meat free versions of our favourites so I decided to develop a Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese recipe for us to have on days when we were trying to avoid meat.
I have long been a fan of Quorn, a meat substitute made from Mycoprotein, a member of the fungi (mushroom) family. It also contains free range (pastured) egg. There are over a hundred Quorn products available; one of them is Quorn mince. It has a similar texture to mince (ground beef) and easily picks up the flavours of anything you cook it with or in.
I decided to use Quorn mince for my Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese but I had one other hurdle. It has taken my husband a long time to like tomato based sauces. His family’s Spaghetti Bolognese sauce is beef stock based and contains virtually no tomato whatsoever because none of the family like cooked tomatoes. It’s also much less ‘sauce-y’ than traditional pasta sauces – more like a meat gravy on the pasta. It’s delicious but not the tomato-ey meat sauce I crave and it’s anything but vegetarian.
Over the years I gradually encouraged my husband to like a tomato based Spaghetti Bolognese by using pureed or sieved tomatoes and adding beef stock to my tomato sauce recipe. It’s a compromise that has worked well for us but I wasn’t quite sure how to translate it into a vegetarian spaghetti bolognese recipe. Vegetable stock was too light to have the flavour I wanted. Fortunately I found some Porcini mushroom stock cubes. These have a rich, deep, meaty flavour but the ones I chose are completely vegetarian.
Another ingredient I like to use in my cooking is Very Lazy Garlic. I use either the chopped or crushed version and it always works out perfectly. The beauty of Very Lazy Garlic is that it stays fresh in the fridge for a number of weeks. Often the fresh garlic I buy in the shops is already past its best and even if I can find fresher bulbs of garlic it takes me too long to use them and they go off. With Very Lazy Garlic I can just open the jar and spoon out what I need (1 teaspoon per clove of garlic) plus there is no peeling or chopping!
While this Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese sauce doesn’t have the beefy flavour of the original, it’s got a great texture and a rich, deep Italian flavour that even my husband loves. My Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese now has a firm place in our comfort food arsenal. In fact, it is often requested instead of the original!
- 1 tablespoon mild olive oil
- 1 large red or white onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 red pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons Very Lazy Garlic or 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1-350 gram (about 12 ounce) package fresh Quorn mince
- 3 to 4 cups passata (sieved tomatoes) or tomato sauce (you may not need it all)
- 1 Porcini mushroom stock cube
- ½ cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
- 400 grams (14 ounces) spaghetti
- Vegetarian Parmesan cheese, to serve
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
- Sauté the onion and red pepper for about five to seven minutes or until they begin to soften.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for a moment or two.
- Stir in the Quorn mince along with 2½ cups of passata (sieved tomatoes) or tomato sauce.
- Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water and add to the sauce.
- Add the basil, oregano and pepper, stirring thoroughly.
- Bring the mixture almost to the boil and then turn back and simmer for five minutes.
- At this point you need to check the texture of the sauce. If you like your sauce very 'sauce-y' you will want to add some more sauce a bit at at time, until it reaches the consistency you like.
- Simmer, uncovered while you cook the spaghetti in the boiling salted water according to package directions.
- When the spaghetti is cooked, drain it and divide between four warmed plates.
- Serve with the Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce and shaved Parmesan.
If you enjoyed this post you may also like Family Favourite Meatless Monday Recipes.
I have worked with the Quorn brand and received samples in the past. I created this recipe for my family’s benefit and have not been compensated for this particular post.