Monday, 15 May 2017

Vegetarian Bolognaise Ragu Sauce

Every Monday I try to make a vegan evening meal, in part a culinary challenge, and in part following a BBC programme (so it must be true) that we need less animal protein as we get older.  Monday is also #meatlessmonday #meatfreemonday on social media.

A traditional Italian tomato sauce is, by it's very nature, a vegan sauce hailing as it does from the poor protein-low diet of Southern Italy.  But I wanted to fool my kids into thinking they were having a normal Spag Bol.  And this sauce is certainly very convincing, particularly if you use a food processor to render all the vegetables into a mincelike texture.

Serves 6
1 onion
1 stick of celery
1 carrot
1 large clove of garlic
100g mushrooms
1 handful dried soya mince (optional, but this is what gives the sauce a meaty texture for the unconverted)
100ml red or white wine
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 can boiling water
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 vegetable stock cube (optional - it gives a meaty depth of flavour, again for the unconverted)
1tbsp olive oil

Start by soaking the soya mince, if you are using it, in the wine.

Peel the onion and chop finely/mince in a food processor.  Fry gently in the olive oil in a saucepan whilst you finely chop the celery, carrot (I usually just wash but not peel carrots if I'm mincing them), and garlic.  Add these to the pan to soften once they are chopped.  Brush any dirt off the mushrooms and mince them, again adding them to the pan once chopped.  Pop a lid on the pan and let everything sweat for 5-10 minutes.

Once the vegetables have sweated down, or the pan has started to dry out, stir in the tomato paste, blitz the chopped tomatoes into a passata, and add the remaining ingredients.  Add boiling water until the sauce is a gloopy Bolognaise quality.  Put the lid on and bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.

After 20 minutes, check the seasoning.  If the sauce is too loose, take the lid off and reduce over a gentle heat.  If too thick, add a little boiling water (or more wine!).  Once the desired consistency either leave to stand for the flavours to develop or serve immediately.

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