Your Meatless Monday just got really, really exceptional – hello Mushroom Bolognese! Loaded with veggies, this healthy meal comes together with little effort and I promise that you won’t miss the meat! Skip the noodles and serve over cauliflower puree or polenta for a gluten-free dinner.
Why yes, that is me giving this bowl of pasta heart eyes from across the room. I just can’t help myself. <<blushes>>
When it comes to comfort food, there’s nothing quite like a big bowl of pasta bolognese and this vegan version is no exception. Mushroom bolognese is so hearty and flavorful, and it’s the perfect tonic to cold weather.
We try to go meat free a few days a week and I love this recipe when I’m craving comfort food or just something a little extra special. It’s amazingly rich in flavor and the texture of the mushrooms are the perfect substitution for beef.
How to Make Vegan Mushroom Bolognese
If you’re looking for quick and easy, this isn’t the recipe for you. But if you’re looking for an exceptionally flavorful meal that will have you embracing meatless Monday (or Sunday) full-throttle, you’ll find yourself in good hands. Vegan mushroom bolognese takes a little time (but not too much effort, pinky promise!) and the result is worth every minute. Portobello mushrooms are the perfect alternative to beef or pork for a rich and hearty bolognese sauce.
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PREP: Sharpen your knife and chop those veggies! Like traditional bolognese, texture matters. Cut the portobello mushrooms into a coarse dice (less than 1″) and the mire poix into a fine dice.
- Saute the mushrooms over high heat until the mushrooms release their liquids and then the liquid evaporates. You’ll know the liquid has completely evaporated when a thin coating of oil remains at the bottom of the pot.
- Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic; saute until the onions turns translucent.
- Add the tomato paste and cook until color deepens.
- Deglaze with red wine, then add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Give everything a good stir, then top with the bay leaf and fresh thyme.
- Simmer at least 20 minutes, or up to 1 hour, until the bolognese is deep red in color.
- Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems, then taste for seasoning. Adjust with salt and pepper until the flavor sings.
Tips for Making This Recipe Perfectly
- Cook the sauce in a heavy bottomed pan. A pot like a dutch oven distributes heat more evenly so you don’t get hot spots that can cause the sauce to scald.
- Properly sautéed mushrooms take patience, and more oil than you think. They will release a ton of liquid in the first 15 minutes, and it will look soupy. Don’t be alarmed! The liquid will continue to cook off and once finished you’ll see a thin film of oil at the bottom of the pan. This is your signal to move onto the next step.
- Sear the mushrooms (mostly) undisturbed. Resist the urge to stir too frequently! You want the mushrooms to brown.
- Meaty portobello mushrooms work really well for this recipe – the finished flavor is very bold. That being said, baby portobello mushrooms work well.
- Add more umami flavor. Substitute up to ½ pound of shiitake mushrooms, or 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms (reconstitute in boiling water first!).
Can I Make Vegan Bolognese Ahead of Time?
Yes! After cooking the sauce, let it cool to room temperature and transfer to an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep well for up to 5 days and you can reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Can I Freeze Mushroom Bolognese?
Unfortunately mushrooms don’t freeze well. Their texture can change quite considerably after thawing, so freezing isn’t recommended.
What’s the Best Pasta to Use?
It’s best to serve bolognese with a thick wide noodle so it captures all of the sauce. I love to serve it with pappardelle or tagliatelle but rigatoni and penne also work well. For a gluten-free alternative, polenta is terrific. For a grain-free (and extra veggie!) alternative, serve over cauliflower puree.
Can I Make this a Gluten Free Meal?
Yes! Feel free to use your favorite gluten free pasta, or course, or serve over polenta. For a grain free meal, serve of cauliflower mashed potatoes or pureed cauliflower.
More Bold & Flavorful Vegan Recipes
- Cauliflower Shawarma Buddha Bowl
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
- Black Bean Bowls with Sweet Potatoes and Quinoa
- Lemon Orzo with Spring Vegetables
Did you make this mushroom bolognese? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- 1.5 lb portobello mushrooms, diced to 1”
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion, diced to ½”
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 1 stalk celery, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 c dry red wine
- 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1-2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 bundle fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried thyme
- chopped fresh parsley, to taste, for garnish
- Heat the olive over high heat in a dutch oven until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and toss to coat in the fat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their liquids and then the liquid evaporates, about 25 minutes. You’ll know the liquid has completely evaporated when a thin coating of oil remains at the bottom of the pot.
- Reduce the heat to medium high. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, then toss to combine. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and work into the vegetables; stir frequently until dark red in color, about 2 minutes.
- Pour in the red wine and deglaze the pot, stirring up any browned bits from the bottom. Continue cooking until the wine stops bubbling, 2-3 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Give everything a good stir, then top with the bay leaf and fresh thyme. Cook at least 20 minutes more and up to 1 hour, until the flavors have melded and the bolognese is deep red in color.
- Toss half the mushroom bolognese with one pound cooked pappardelle noodles. Portion into bowls and finish with an additional scoop of bolognese. Serve immediately.
- Mushrooms need a lot of oil to properly sauté. They will release a ton of liquid in the first 15 minutes, and it will look soupy. Don’t be alarmed! The liquid will continue to cook off and once finished you’ll see a thin film of oil at the bottom of the pan. This is your signal to move onto the next step.
- Serve over polenta for a gluten-free option or cauliflower puree for a grain-free and paleo option.
I very much like this recipe, very tasty, but personally I like more sauce. Next time I am going to add a can of tomato sauce to it, and probably another clove of garlic The spices are perfect: I used several sprigs of fresh thyme from my garden and a leaf of fresh California Bay. Very nice! Thank you!
Loved it. Defines keeper – Thanks for sharing
All these dishes sound great! Have you tried all of them? I think I have certain recommendations which you will have quite fun creating and sharing with your family and friends!
Dude, cutting 1.5 pounds of mushrooms was rough, but totally worth it. This was a great meatless recipe. I did add extra carrots and celery because I love veggies.
This turned out great. Thank you for sharing
Made this for meatless Monday….even my husband who’s a “meat eater” loved it! Absolutely delicious!
I made this because I had a surprise vegetarian guest at a dinner party and it was delicious. So hearty — definitely don’t miss thé meat
We made this for Meatless Monday, served it over papardelle, it was gorgeous. I like to have a few great vegan recipes available as we have several vegan friends. This is an outstanding recipe, easy to make, and has a wonderful complex flavor. My husband cleaned his plate and that’s a compliment from him. I froze the leftover sauce, plan to serve it over polenta with some kale or beet greens. I’ve frozen lots of mushroom containing foods in the past with no issues. I’ll report back how it fares.