Mushroom Bolognese

November 15, 2017



Since adopting the semi-quasi-ovo-lacto-charlatan-vegetarian eating plan in September, I’ve been getting lots of emails and questions from you readers, which is awesome on many levels. I mean, reason #1 is obviously that I love you, and love hearing from you. I also love to hear myself talk, which ties in nicely with reason #1. It’s also interesting to find that many of you are, like me, realizing that maybe relying so much on animals for protein in our diets isn’t the most efficient or planet-friendly way to operate. Or cost effective, for that matter. It’s funny…I certainly was aware on some level how much of our grocery bill was going to organic, grass-fed, locally sourced (if possible) animal protein, but I didn’t really get it until I saw the drop in our grocery bill. Even if you buy the eggs from happy, wandering, pasture-fed chickens and the imported cheese, it’s a dang steal compared to the buffalo steaks and the lamb chops. A steal.

One question I’ve been getting frequently is, “Is it harder to get meals on the table?” The answer to that question is yes, but not for the reasons you’d think. Most people think it’s harder because my kids won’t eat the vegetarian fare I’m dishing up, and they’d be partially right, but my kids could shovel down eggs and toast for every meal without complaint. Truth is, my children didn’t eat half of the “regular” meals I make because they are carbotarians, and finicky ones at that. Feeding them hasn’t changed. My husband and I are the problem, but it’s not a big problem. I’m just committed to finding new recipes and not trying to go all “death by black beans,” on our asses, which does take time and effort. I don’t imagine this will be an issue forever. I’ll find new favorite recipes to rely on.

The most common question I’m getting is, “Have you lost weight?” It’s a natural question. Any time you shake up your diet, that’s kind of the question at hand. My answer is: I don’t think so? I don’t know for sure, because I don’t keep a bathroom scale around. I’ve learned that a scale is not a good thing for me to have, so I don’t. I didn’t really expect to lose weight, because I didn’t do a significant “overhaul” of the way I eat. I’m still eating lots of fun things like carbohydrates and cheese, so it’s not like I’ve taken drastic dietary measures. Plus, Menopause! What a pain in the arse, that menopause. It would take a lot more than cutting my animal protein intake to shed significant poundage. Rotten fact. But. I feel good. I am for sure sleeping much better, which is a weirdo side effect I didn’t anticipate. I also think my skin looks better. My jeans still fit, so I’m not complaining one speck. The only thing fatter thing in this scenario is my wallet, so I’m taking it. And so far, sticking with it.

One of the most surprising recipes I’ve tried so far on this eating plan is this one, for mushroom bolognese sauce. It doesn’t sound impressive, really, and like most dishes featuring mushrooms, it’s not stunningly beautiful (then again, is regular bolognese sauce?).

It is damn delicious, though, and both my husband and I couldn’t get enough of it. We put it on pasta, we spooned it on top of baked potatoes and polenta, we tossed it with baked spaghetti squash (when we were feeling particularly virtuous). I even added it to my morning veggie and grain bowls, which made them doubly luscious. I made three batches of this in a row, and I don’t see myself slowing down. I like it every bit as much as I do regular, meat-based spaghetti sauce.

I will say that I think it’s imperative to use a variety of mushrooms in this sauce. Using strictly button mushrooms won’t give you the depth of flavor you want from a bolognese. I used a combination of button, cremini and portobello mushrooms and was quite happy.

One word of caution: if you don’t want to texture to turn funky, be sure to hand-chop the mushrooms instead of putting them in the food processor. The food processor blade chops them too finely (you want a rough dice/chop). The processor sort of mashes everything together and the texture’s all wrong. Take the extra time and effort to chop them yourself; if you do that, you won’t miss the meat. I mean it! I was dubious too but I truly didn’t miss the meat here.

Chopping aside, this is easy enough to earn a spot on your regular meal rotation, but delicious enough for a special meal. You might just scarf the entire pan in 2 days and have to make another batch. Ahem.

Worth it.

Mushroom Bolognese

slightly adapted from Gimme Some Oven

serves 6


2 tablespoons butter (you can use olive oil but butter gives it a little extra somethin’)

1 small white onion, chopped

1 carrot, diced

2 celery ribs, diced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms, cleaned and diced (I used a mixture of button, cremini and portobello)

2/3 cup dry red wine

1 2/3 cup vegetable or chicken stock

1 tablespoon soy sauce (use tamari sauce if you want this vegetarian)

1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

kosher salt and black pepper

1 pound of your favorite pasta, cooked (I’d urge you to use imported, if you can)

1/2 cup fresh parsley or basil, chopped

freshly grated Parmesan, for serving (be generous!)


In a large saute pan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook for about 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Add the garlic and the tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5-10 minutes or until the mushrooms are browned.

Pour in the wine and give the vegetable mixture a good stir, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the wine is reduced by half.

Add in the stock, tomato sauce, bay leaf, Italian seasoning and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer sauce, uncovered, for 10-20 minutes or until it is reduced and thick like a meat sauce. Stir in crushed red pepper and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Add the pasta straight into the pot with the sauce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and a generous amount of grated Parmesan.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Velva November 15, 2017 at 7:37 am

Cheers to you! We all can use a little vegetarian in our lives! Looks delicious ❤️


Annie November 15, 2017 at 8:17 am

Oh man this sounds like my idea of perfection. I could probbly drink the stuff! So much umami and comfort!
Glad to hear you are sleeping better! Miss you tons. Xoxo


Lisa November 16, 2017 at 9:14 am

This looks awesome – too bad none of my family will eat mushrooms. Definitely agree on the wallet point. We have been eating mostly meatless for the last several months and it is definitely has a dramatic impact on the grocery budget.


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