Vegan Bolognese

I teamed up with Tempea to bring you this fantastic vegan spaghetti Bolognese recipe. This vegan pasta sauce is loaded with protein and the flavour rivals some of the best Bolognese sauces I have ever had. The primary source of protein in this sauce is tempeh and it’s absolutely delicious!

If you haven’t had tempeh before, it is a fermented soy product. Tempeh should not be confused with tofu. Tofu is more processed than tempeh. You can see the whole soybeans in the tempeh pictured above. It’s also more filling than tofu because it’s high in protein and fibre. Tempeh is fermented and fermented foods tend to be good for gut health and digestion because they’re rich in probiotics, good bacteria. I also prefer the taste and texture of tempeh to tofu. It’s nutty and has a firm texture. If you live in Vancouver, I would highly recommend trying the Tempea tempeh brand. It’s made locally with organic, non-GMO soybeans. Some tempeh brands contain sugar, grains and other additives, so be sure to read the ingredient list before purchasing it. Tempea is also sugar-free and gluten-free, which I like because I can share it with my gluten-intolerant friends too.

The Bolognese sauce originated in Bologna, Italy. It is known for being meaty and rich in protein. This recipe is all of that and more. Tempeh is a great source of protein. Even though my husband and I do eat meat occasionally, we were surprised to find out about a year ago that our iron levels were on the low side of normal. Since then we’ve been making a concerted effort to incorporate tempeh and other protein/iron-rich legumes into our diet, and to eat them with foods that contain vitamin C to increase our bodies’ iron absorption. The tomato purée in this recipe helps with that. You could also add some diced red bell pepper too for an extra dose of vitamin C if you like.

The Bolognese sauce itself is also meaty. The thick and rich texture is achieved by adding lots of finely diced vegetables. They are carmelized and then simmer in white wine and vegetable stock until they are soft and tender. They bring such incredible flavour and sweetness to the sauce. The nutty tempeh pairs really well with the sweet vegetables and tomato paste. Traditionally we wouldn’t add any tomato purée to a Bolognese sauce, but I wanted this sauce to be extra saucy, so I broke with tradition here. If you’re from Bologna, please forgive me. My family is from the south of Italy, and we’re a little saucier down there. All kidding aside, this sauce is lip-smacking good and you’re going to love this recipe.

Enjoy!

Vegan Bolognese
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: gluten-free, Vegan Bolognese, Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese
Servings: 6
Author: Rosa
Ingredients
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 200 grams tempeh, finely diced
Spice Blend for the Tempeh
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
Spice Blend for the Vegetables
  • 3 tsp dried oregano (or Italian Seasoning)
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or 1/2 tsp if you like spice)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
Other Ingredients
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or vegetable stock)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes or tomato purée
  • 1 box (1 lb) spaghetti (or gluten-free spaghetti)
  • 1/2 cup pasta water
Topping
  • 2 tbsp toasted almond flour
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
Instructions
  1. Cut the tempeh into 1/2 cm cubes.

  2. Add 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil to a non-stick frying pan. Turn the burner to medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the tempeh to the pan. Sauté the tempeh for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle the tempeh with the tempeh spice blend and stir. Remove the tempeh from the pan and set aside.

  3. Add 2 tbsp of extra virgin oil to a large sauce pot, preferably stainless steel. Turn the burner to medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, add the vegetables to the pan. Add the vegetable spice blend and stir. Sauté the diced vegetables for 5 minutes or until they have softened and start to stick to the pan. Be careful not to brown the vegetables. 

  4. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Stir until the wine has reduced by more than half, around 2 to 3 minutes.

  5. Add the tomato paste and the vegetable stock.

  6. Stir for 5 minutes or until the stock has reduced by half. 

  7. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir. 

  8. Simmer on low heat with the lid on the pan for 20 minutes or longer. Stir occasionally. 

  9. Meanwhile place a large pot of water to boil. When the water is boiling, add 2 tsp salt and stir.

  10. Add the spaghetti to the pot of boiling water. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, minus one minute. The spaghetti will finish cooking in the sauce.

  11. Use tongs or a pasta ladle to add the spaghetti to the saucepan. Add half a cup of pasta water to the saucepan. Toss everything together. Add one tbsp of extra virgin olive oil to the saucepan and toss a little more.

  12. Sprinkle with the almond flour/nutritional yeast topping and serve.

Recipe Notes

You can allow the sauce to simmer a little longer if you’re not in a rush. The sauce will develop more flavour the longer it simmers. 

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