Vegetarian Bolognese

Joined May 17, 2019

I'm trying to make a great vegetarian bolognese. Replacing the meat texture is simple enough but how to I replicate that flavour you get from the fat of the meat? I'm just finding that the sauce seems to lack the depth of flavour without the meat. Adding a tonne of grated Parmesan helps of course...

Any tips of recipes recommended would be great, thanks!
Joined Sep 5, 2008
A mix of vegetarian approved fats? Butter, olive oil are a no-brainer. Cream, while less obvious, is actually part of the "authentic" ragu bolognese recipe as reported here:ù-classico-bolognese. You can also use whole milk. And how about a reasonable amount of coconut oil? Not for flavor, but for creaminess.

You could also experiment with nut butters, like almond butter, peanut butter and tahini?

Also not a fat, and perhaps you've already thought of that, but a mushroom duxelle would probably help with the meat-like texture and taste. Maybe toasted breadcrumbs soaked in cream...
Joined Jul 13, 2012
A mix of duxelles and dried mushrooms would help a lot plus the mushroom liquid is packed with flavor. TVP (textured vegetable protein) adds body, but it's a soy product so beware of anyone allergic to it.
Joined Nov 10, 2017
I would second the duxelle except I would take it a bit further. If you roast the mushrooms you get even more umami. Whenever I eat and impossible burger the first thing that hits me is a flavor reminiscent of roasted mushrooms. The coconut fat is a great suggestion, especially if you are trying to keep it vegan as opposed to vegetarian, and I would also consider hitting it with some miso for more depth.
Joined Aug 15, 2003
It might help if you told us what you are currently doing to make your "bolognese"

As said above, things with lots of umami will give you better depth. So mushrooms, parmesan cheese, and tomato all have good umami. Nutritional yeast (small amount lol) might give you a little punch, maybe something like a sheet of kombu in the sauce as it simmers?

Maybe add a small amount of smoked salt or smoked butter? I know that smoking isn't part of a traditional bolo, but I've had luck using smoked salt for various vegetarian/vegan preparations and it usually goes over kind of reminds people of meat and especially grilled meat, so if you use just a small amount it might give it some additional depth and "meatiness" that you are looking for.

Honestly, though, there is a limit to how much you can accomplish in this regard. You will never be able to replicate or replace the meat in a sauce that is as meat centric as bolognese. But the ideas above are a good starting point to get you as close as possible.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
Roasting or grilling your tomatoes and mushrooms can go a long way in adding deep and/or smoky flavor. You can char the onions and mushrooms briefly, and slow roast the tomatoes and garlic before introducing them to the sauce. A bit of tomato paste can add umami as well.
Joined Jan 4, 2011
Here ... Swap out the meat product for seared Jackfruit that you easily blitz into ground meat-style. Swap out the regular milk for almond, coconut or soy milk.

Top Bottom