This Vegetarian Bolognese is full of hearty vegetables that cook down into a rich sauce very similar to the meat filled version. It’s a perfect replacement for the classic over pasta or gnocchi. Of course this isn’t traditional “bolognese”; instead it’s a vegan and vegetarian version that is so flexible depending on what vegetables you might have on hand!
I spent the weekend celebrating my mama’s birthday and took her to see The Waitress—which was SO good. I loved the movie but the play was WAY better so I highly recommend if it comes to your town.
Let’s talk cauliflower gnochhi. I’ve been seeing it all over the internets lately so I wanted to give it a try. I was stunned that they were so delicious!
I’ve now been keeping a bag or two in the freezer and it’s great to have on hand when you need a quick meal.
This late summer veggie “bolognese” is my favorite. It’s so good and fresh and light. This makes a decent size batch and it’s totally great to freeze so you can use it later. I used to be pretty lukewarm on the freezer but it’s recently become my best friend.
How to Make Vegetarian Bolognese:
- Prep the veggies. The texture we want with the vegetables is as close to ground meat as we can get, so I like to chop each vegetable with a food processor to get it that fine. If you don’t have a food processor just use a knife to chop up the vegetables as fine as you can get them.
- Cook the veggies. Cook the veggies in batches until they’ve softened significantly and have sweated out all their liquid. Salting the mushrooms early can make them waterlogged, so wait until this step to salt them.
- Add everything else and simmer. Once the veggies are cooked, add the tomatoes with the spices and cheese and simmer just enough to get the canned flavor out of the tomatoes. Taste and add salt if needed then serve over whatever you’d like!
How to Freeze Vegetarian Bolognese Sauce:
- It’s very easy to freeze this sauce. Just let it cool completely then place in a freezer safe bag (I like to freeze it flat on a baking sheet first so it’s easier to store). Once it’s frozen, remove the baking sheet.
Tips and Tricks:
- This is a perfect make-ahead meal! The sauce will last for a few days at least, tightly sealed in the fridge.
- If you wanted to use other vegetables that you have on hand that’s fine! I will say that the only vegetables that can’t be swapped out are the mushrooms, they give the sauce that hearty meat like base that makes a bolognese.
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and minced
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 large carrot, peeled and minced
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms
- 1 zucchini
- 1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed
- 1 (26-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan-Reggiano, plus more as garnish
- 1 pound of cauliflower gnocchi OR regular gnocchi
- Pull out your food processor. If you don’t have one, you can just minced everything with a knife. But I do love the fine mince that is provided by the food processor because it makes it almost “ground.” Add the onion and garlic and pulse until diced. Repeat with the carrot, cremini mushrooms, zucchini and red bell pepper.
- In a medium Dutch oven, set over medium-low heat, add the olive oil. When warm, add the minced onion, garlic and carrot; cook until softened about 10 minutes.
- Then add the mushrooms, zucchini and red bell pepper, adding a few tablespoons of olive oil if needed (I needed it). Cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has released from the vegetables and evaporates and they’re totally softened, 15 to 20 minutes. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, water, salt, dried oregano, red pepper flakes and finely grated Parmesan. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, just until the flavors have married together. Give it a taste and adjust the salt to your liking. Turn the flame to low to keep warm while you cook the gnocchi.
- To cook the cauliflower gnocchi, add a tablespoon of olive oil to a non-stick skillet. When warm, add the gnocchi and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until lightly golden brown. Add a ladle or two of the sauce and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Divide amongst bowls and top with another spoonful of “bolognese.” Garnish with parmesan cheese, basil leaves, more crushed red pepper…if you’re into that sort of thing.
- You’ll end up with leftover ‘bolognese’—good! This freezes so well. Add to a freezer-safe container and place in the freezer. To thaw, transfer to the fridge or leave out on the counter.
Did you make this recipe? Let me know on Instagram!
Looking for more vegetarian recipes? here are some of my favorites:
- Grilled Corn with Chipotle Bourbon Butter
- Cacio e Pepe Mashed Potatoes
- Instant Pot Vegan Chili
- Jackfruit Tinga Tacos
- Grilled Veggie Sandwiches
- Vegetarian Pot Stickers