Mushroom Bolognese {vegan}

Though it seems like you can make almost every recipe vegan, it never occurred to me to make vegan bolognese. Meat seems like such an essential component to the rich sauce. However, while perusing the cookbook Homemade with Love, I came across a recipe for a mushroom bolognese made with the author’s 20-minute marinara sauce.

Because I had tagged the marina sauce recipe to make anyway and because I just happened to have a giant amount of organic mushrooms I’d purchased from Costco, I thought a vegan bolognese sauce would be a good option to have on hand to toss with some gluten-free pasta. (I’m not supposed to be eating dairy or gluten right now. Yippee.)

I decided to take the long road with this recipe because I truly enjoy the smell of bolognese as it bubbles away on the stovetop. Traditional bolognese takes several hours to make, and I like tradition. So I started with Jenny’s basic recipe for mushroom bolognese and 20-minute marinara sauce and modified it for the long-haul.

I used all organic ingredients because my doctor has recommended eating only organic for the time being. This has never been a priority to me, but when your health is on the line, sometimes you just do what you have to do. You can’t put a price on health. And, besides, you can eat organic fairly cheaply shopping at Trader Joe’s or buying Whole Foods 365 brand.

Though I like mushrooms and marinara sauce and I’m trying to look at my new dietary restrictions as an adventure instead of a sentence, I still get bitter about it sometimes. There’s nothing that says I can’t eat meat. I can eat meat. It’s just that it must be organic. But I do try to eat more vegetables, including eating vegan more often. This vegan sauce smelled like a traditional bolognese sauce when I brought it over to the table for dinner. It looked like a traditional bolognese sauce as well, if not slightly darker. (I usually use white wine in bolognese because I like white better and rarely have red on hand.)

Prior to plating the dishes, I tried the pasta sans sauce. I honestly wouldn’t have known the pasta was gluten free had I not known. Already I was impressed. Then when I put the sauce and noodles together, my dad and I agreed it was pretty fantastic. We passed on adding vegan parmesan cheese (which I do have in my fridge!) and thought that the sauce tasted perfectly traditionally bolognese-y.


  • 2 T. avocado or olive oil
  • 10 oz button mushrooms cleaned and chopped fine
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 carrot sticks, chopped fine (optional)
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped fine (optional)
  • ½ to 1 c. red wine
  • 12 oz fresh tomatoes, any variety
  • 16 oz tomato sauce
  • 28 oz canned whole, peeled tomatoes
  • vegetable broth or stock, if necessary, to thin out the sauce
  • torn basil, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Pour oil in a large heavy-bottom pot. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic and mushroom. Cook over medium heat until softened and water has evaporated from the mushrooms, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Pour 1/2 cup of wine over the vegetable mixture and allow the wine to soak into the veggies. Let the veggies simmer for a couple minutes until the wine has reduced/evaporated.
  3. Add the tomato sauce and whole tomatoes and cook over low heat until bubbly. Add the fresh tomatoes and cook over low heat until the tomatoes begin to shrivel and you can burst them with a spoon or fork. This will take awhile, possibly an hour or two or more. Don’t rush it. Enjoy the smell of the sauce as it simmers. You can also add some more red wine here.
  4. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you like, tear some fresh basil up and add to the sauce. If you think the sauce is too thick, add a little vegetable stock or broth.
  5. I like to allow the sauce to sit overnight and reheat the next day. I think the flavor grows better and better overnight as the flavors marry. Serve piping hot over your favorite pasta shape with some vegan or dairy parmesan cheese.

Note: I did not add carrots or celery to this recipe. I am not supposed to be eating carrots (too much sugar) and don’t really like celery. However, my traditional bolognese recipe uses both and I highly recommend if you’re not able to and like to add carrots and celery to recipes.

Recipe rating: 

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