A beautiful fusion of Mediterranean flavours combine in this classic spaghetti bolognese recipe, which is simmered slowly to mellow its flavours and create the ultimate vegan comfort meal.
One of my all-time favourite weeknight meals has always been spaghetti bolognese, both when I used to eat meat, and now as a vegan.
This is because I have mastered the plant-based spaghetti bolognese sauce! It has taken a while of experimentation, but I feel like I have a pretty good recipe created now.
When I was new to plant-based eating, one of the first problems I ran into was how to make spaghetti bolognese without mince? I tried making lentil bolognese sauce, which is great, but doesn’t quite cut it if you are looking for a texture that is very similar to ground beef mince meat.
I am really glad that I discovered soya mince (also known as TVP – Texturised Vegetable Protein) early on, because, in my opinion, it is the best mince meat analogue I have found. It is made from soya beans, is very cheap, it soaks up flavours very well, is high in protein with no fat, and has a texture very similar to mince!
There are various different kinds of soya mince – the one that I have used for this recipe is a plain, dry soya mince granules.
There is a different soya mince that is sold in most grocery stores in the dry food sections, near the dry pasta’s etc. You find it in a box, and it is usually flavoured. If you look at the ingredients on these boxes, you will find that, while it does have its place as a convenient and quick food, it is not very pure. It has lots of additives such as starch thickeners, added fat and sugar, as well as flavour enhancers.
I buy plain soya mince granules from Atlas Foods in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, but you can also find the Nature’s Choice or Health Connection brands, as well as this brand, all from Dischem, and most large grocery retailers.
They are also available in chunks, which work amazingly as a substitute for anything that would have utilized chunks of beef or meat – think pepper ‘steak’ pie, stews, or a killer Hungarian-style goulash which I have been known to make with them (recipe to come soon)!
In the meanwhile, please do try your hand at this meatless spaghetti bolognese and let me know how you find it!
Meat – free Spaghetti BologneseCourse: DinnerCuisine: MediterraneanDifficulty: Easy
An authentically flavoured bolognese pasta sauce made vegan by using soya mince granules (TVP)
1 large yellow onion, roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, grated/minced
1 large red/yellow/green pepper, finely diced
1 stick of celery, diced
1 large carrot, grated
2 cups dry soya mince granules
125g button mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 vegan beef stock cube (I use Imana or Knorrox)
1/2 tsp Marmite
90g tomato paste
400g tinned tomatoes/tomato passata
1/2 cup red wine (optional, but recommended)
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp each of dried basil and oregano
1 tsp salt
good grind of black pepper
1 tsp sugar, or granular sweetener equivalent to 1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp capers, roughly chopped (optional)
50g pitted black olives, roughly chopped (optional)
4 large sundried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
Fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano
500g packet of dried spaghetti pasta
- Dissolve the half stock cube and marmite in the boiling water.
Add the dry soya mince and leave for 10 minutes to rehydrate.
- Heat a large pot over medium heat and soften the chopped onion and garlic in a little oil or water.
- Add the pepper, celery, carrot and mushrooms to the onions and cook gently for a few minutes.
- Once all the vegetables are soft, add the rehydrated mince, along with any remaining stock.
- Add the wine (alternatively use 1-2Tbs balsamic vinegar), tomato paste, tinned tomatoes/passata, all the dried herbs and spices, salt, pepper, and sugar.
- At this time you can also add in any of the optional extras, which I do recommend if you have them on hand – capers, olives and sundried tomatoes.
Do not add any fresh herbs at this point.
- Simmer over a low heat, with the lid askew, for at least 30 minutes, stirring every now and again to prevent burning or sticking.
- While the bolognese is simmering, cook your spaghetti according to packet instructions.
- Taste the bolognese and make any adjustments, such as adding more salt or dried herbs.
If you prefer a more saucy bolognese, you may add more water or stock at this stage too.
- Add in any fresh herbs right at the end, just before serving.
- Serve bolognese atop the freshly cooked spaghetti.
I highly recommend grating cheese on top, and a last sprinkling of fresh basil or parsley.
I used this Violife cheese, but any vegan cheese will do.