Vegan Bolognese (Ragu) Vegan Bolognese (Ragu)
Prep 15 minutes
Total 1 hour 45 minutes
Serves
US | Metric
Vegan Bolognese (Ragu)

A delicious, rich plant-based ragu with mushrooms and Puy lentils. My secret to making a rich, deeply flavoured vegan ragu is twofold: a properly cooked sofrito and a mushroom mix. Sofrito, in this case, is a mix of minced onion, carrot and celery, slowly cooked in extra-virgin olive oil until soft and golden. It is the foundation upon which the flavour profile of the ragu is built. You want to take your time with it – 15 to 20 minutes. As you slow-cook the vegetables, they release moisture, which concentrates all the flavours and adds depth of flavour to the finished sauce. 


Mushrooms are a great plant-based way of adding an umami punch to any dish. My recipe calls for a combination of chestnut, portobello and mixed woodland mushrooms but you can use any kind/combination you’d like. The key is to cook them down until almost all of the liquid evaporates to ramp up the mushrooms’ natural umami-ness. Ultimately, the key to making a delicious ragù is building layers of flavour. Taking the time to cook the sofrito and mushrooms separately are keys to making a rich, deeply flavoured vegan ragu.

Ingredients
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 sweet onions (or white onions)
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 300 g chestnut mushrooms
  • 250 g portobello mushrooms
  • 200 g woodland mushrooms/mushroom mix
  • 3 tbsps double concentrated tomato purée
  • 2 tbsps sundried tomato paste
  • 400 ml white wine
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 1 x 400 g tin of good-quality whole peeled plum tomatoes, hand-crushed
  • 150 g Puy lentils
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsps sugar
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 small handful fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

METHOD

  1. As this recipe calls for a long list of ingredients, I recommend getting all your prep done before you start cooking. Use a food processor to mince the sweet onions, carrots and celery. I suggest that you pulse them separately, as they break down differently and at different speeds. 2) Use a food processor to pulse-chop the mushrooms until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. You will likely have to do it in batches. It will look like a lot of mushrooms (a literal mountain!) but you’ll be surprised by how much they cook down. 3) Mince the garlic. 4) Remove the rosemary leaves from their stems and chop finely. 5) Rinse the lentils well and drain. 
  2. Heat a very generous glug of extra-virgin olive oil (at least 100 ml) in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. 
  3. Add the sweet onion, carrot and celery and season with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, 15 to 20 minutes. 
  4. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Transfer the sofrito to a bowl.
  5. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add another glug of extra-virgin olive oil to the same Dutch oven. Add your minced mushrooms and season with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until almost all the liquid evaporates, around 10 minutes. 
  6. Return the sofrito to the pot and stir to combine. Add the tomato purée and sundried tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to darken, 3 to 4 minutes.  
  7. Add the white wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced by around ¾, 3 to 4 minutes.
  8. Add the vegetable stock cubes, using a wooden spoon to break them up and incorporate them into the vegetables. 
  9. Add the crushed tinned tomatoes, lentils, water, balsamic vinegar, sugar and bay leaves. Season lightly with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper and stir to combine. Bring the ragu to a simmer. 
  10. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 40 to 45 mins, or until the lentils are cooked through. You want them to be soft but not completely mushy (unless you want them that way!). 
  11. If needed, simmer the ragù uncovered over medium-low heat to thicken, anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Stir in the fresh basil. Taste and season with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste. Serve with your favourite pasta or use it as a base for a delicious lasagna. 
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