Vegan ‘Bolognese’ delivers satisfying, saucy and rich flavor
I’m not usually one for quote marks in recipe names, especially when it comes to plant-based versions of meat-focused dishes. You know, fried “chicken” sandwiches when the “chicken” is actually an oyster mushroom, that kind of thing. In recipes I’m developing for a new cookbook, I’m calling a whole selection of bacon-esque versions “crisps” for that very reason.
But sometimes you just can’t help it, such as when you’re cooking a sauce that is renowned for its use of multiple types of meat and for its long process, and you’re doing neither of those things, yet you still want to evoke the reference and feeling. You want to focus on vegetables, and you want to get dinner on the table quickly.
This fantastic recipe from Ella Mills’ latest cookbook is a radical departure from the Italian classic ragu Bolognese. It comes together quickly enough for a weeknight and gets its depth of flavor not from meat or from time, but from a smart combination of umamipacked ingredients: two types of mushrooms, two forms of tomato and soy sauce. To all you Italian purists out there, I know what you’re thinking.
Here’s the thing: I don’t
eat the meats that are in the traditional Bolognese anymore, and yet I want something with that same vibe. So when I spied the recipe in “How to Go Plant-Based,” I gave it a whirl, and appreciated how dried porcinis and fried creminis, along with canned (or any precooked) lentils, gave me some of that same effect. I tossed the sauce with pasta, twirled my fork, and issued an audible sigh that communicated sheer comfort and satisfaction.
In her book, Mills uses the word Bolognese without any qualification, but I decided to give it the old quotationmark treatment. You can do either – or call it something else altogether if you’d like – but whatever way you go, I hope you make it. It’s that good.