Roasted Cauliflower and Mushroom Bolognese Recipe
This rich and luxurious Roasted Cauliflower and Mushroom Meat Free Bolognese is a guaranteed you won’t “miss the meat” pasta sauce. Roasting the cauliflower and mushrooms deepens the flavour of this satisfying dinner. You can easily eat this after cooking but it’s always better the next day and freeze some for later.
Traditionally, Bolognese is a time consuming, rich, and deeply flavoured broth. The meat adds body and umami, but you don’t need meat for a beautiful Bolognese.
In this vegetarian version, while not the same as a traditional Bolognese, roasted cauliflower and mushrooms provide every bit as much flavour and texture as the meat version. Serve it over spaghetti, fettuccini, linguine, or pappardelle noodles, and you’ll enjoy a satisfying, filling dinner full of robust roasted vegetable flavours.
The process of making this is not a slam-dunk in terms of time, but it does provide cooking therapy. When the steps occupy your mind, you can begin to focus on the moment, a good thing when times are challenging.
The cauliflower and mushrooms roast in the oven while you start the sauce. Roasting concentrates and deepens their flavour while you get going on the next few steps on the stovetop.
Prep Time: 15mins
Cooking Time: 35mins
Total Time: 50mins
Ingredients for my Cauliflower and Mushroom Meat Free Bolognese
For the sauce
1 medium head cauliflower, quartered, cored, and cut into florets
300g baby portabello mushrooms or any mushrooms of your choice
1 carrot, grated
1 celery stick, grated or finely chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste, (no seeds, and no peel for Lectin Free)
175ml white wine
2 cans (14oz) Italian chopped tomatoes, (no seeds, and peel for Lectin Free)
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1/2 tablespoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
500ml vegetable stock or water
40g red lentils, rinsed and drained
For the pasta
100g per person of spaghetti, linguine, pappardelle, or fettuccine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
Finely grated Parmesan, for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 200ºC and then line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place your cauliflower florets into your food processor with your S blade and then pulse to chop the cauliflower into small pieces. You are not making cauliflower rice, so stop pulsing when the cauliflower is finely chopped with a few small chunks.
Pour the cauliflower onto one of the baking sheets and mound in the centre. Coat the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a large pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper. Toss to coat and spread it on the baking sheet in a single layer.
Without washing the food processor, add the mushrooms to the bowl and pulse until the mushrooms are finely chopped.
Pour the chopped mushrooms into a mound in the centre of the other baking sheet. Coat the chopped mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a large pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper. Toss to coat it in the oil and spread it on the baking sheet in one layer.
Place the two baking sheets in the oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower is golden at the edges and the mushrooms have released most of their moisture and are dark (don’t be worried, the mushrooms will shrink considerably, which is fine.)
For the Sauce:
Meanwhile, heat a large deep saute pan over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil has heated, add the onions celery, carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until softened. If the onion mixture starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to release them. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.
Push the onions and garlic to one side of the pan and move the pan so the onions are off the heat. In the space you cleared, add the tomato paste. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a dark, rusty red.
Place the pan over the heat and stir in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits. Cook, stirring occasionally until the wine evaporates.
Add the tomatoes, herbs, water or stock, lentils, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
Putting it together:
Stir in the mushrooms and cauliflower, and simmer for 5 minutes to allow the flavours to mingle. The sauce may be thick and that is ok as it equals maximum flavour. Always use the pasta cooking water to thin it to the desired consistency.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta of your choice according to the package directions. Scoop out a cup of the pasta water to reserve it for thinning the sauce if necessary. Drain the pasta in a colander.
If your sauce looks too thick, stir in some of the pasta water just a little at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
Mound a nest of pasta onto a plate, ladle some sauce over the top, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley if using.
HOW TO STORE AND FREEZE CAULIFLOWER BOLOGNESE
This is a great sauce to double. Use some now and save the rest for another day when you’re too tired to cook.
The sauce will keep in the refrigerator in a covered container for three to four days. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate within two hours of cooking the sauce.
For optimal flavour, use frozen sauce within four to six months. The sauce will still be safe to eat for up to one year. If defrosted in the refrigerator, it will keep for an additional three to four days in the fridge. Use microwaved sauce immediately after reheating.