Bolognese purists beware! Many people will argue that there is no such thing as a meatless bolognese, as in essence, bolognese is a meat sauce. However, in the spirit of being inclusive of all dietary related decisions, this recipe was created for those seeking a meatless diet but who still long for that intensely flavoured ragu experience. Trust me, where this dish lacks in naming accuracy, it more than makes up for in sheer deliciousness. Pulling from the umami cheat sheet and using ingredients like cheese rinds, anchovy fillets and miso paste, you’d be hard-pressed to deny its flavour depth despite the clear absence of any actual meat. Still built like a true bolognese by layering the flavours step by step, what you end up with is a rich, hearty and savoury sauce perfect for twirling through fresh cooked pasta strands.
Meatless Pasta Bolognese 10 Steps
Rehydrate the dried porcini mushrooms with about 1 cup of boiling water until softened. Strain off the mushrooms and reserve the soaking liquid, chop the softened mushrooms.
Using a food processor, pulse the chunked carrots, chunked onions, chunked zucchini and chunked eggplant until they are all approximately half the size of baby peas, set aside (this can also be done by hand with a knife or large grate on box grater).
Pulse the cremini mushrooms to the same size as the other vegetables in the same food processor and set aside.
Pulse the walnuts until the same crumbly size as the vegetables and set aside.
Heat a large heavy bottomed pot on medium heat. Add in the olive oil, begin sweating off the pulsed carrots, onions, zucchini and eggplant. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, approximately 10-15 minutes.
Next add in the pulsed cremini mushrooms, chopped porcini mushrooms, dried basil, dried oregano and minced garlic, cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Add in the anchovy fillets, miso paste, tomato paste and cook for another 5 minutes. Deglaze with the red wine and cook until almost all of the wine has dissolved.
Add in the chopped walnuts, bay leaves, cheese rinds, porcini soaking water as well as the hand crushed canned tomatoes. Simmer on medium low heat for 30-40 minutes until the sauce has reached a desired consistency. Add in the balsamic vinegar and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
When the sauce is about 10 minutes away from being finished, cook preferred pasta in a salted pot of boiling water until al dente.
To serve, toss the sauce with the cooked pasta, half of the grated Parmigiano and serve with the remainder of the cheese on the side.