Umami Magic: Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe!

Vegan Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese

This vegan spaghetti bolognese is an accidental vegan recipe! I had a bag of mushrooms that I wanted to use up so I decided to make a rich "meat" sauce without the meat. Enter this mushroom bolognese that tastes so much like beef bolognese thanks to some secret but easy to find ingredients! If you are looking for a delicious vegan recipe to feed to vegans and omnivores then you have to give this mushroom bolognese a try!

Every fortnight I get a vege box and I love it because it makes me eat a variety of fruit and vegetables. It's a very generously sized box and ideally there's enough F&V for 3 people so we find that we eat much healthier because we are busy eating up these vegetables. That means we end up eating less meat it's usually when we eat out. The mushrooms were looking a bit in need of love at the bottom of my vege crisper and I wanted to make something rich, filling and healthy with them. Craving a pasta, I decided to experiment and make a mushroom bolognese and holy heavens it was even better than I could have even imagined! Also I'm not vegan but I love vegetables and I used beef stock cubes and added real Parmigiano-Reggiano at the end. If you are vegan you can easily switch those two out to make it vegan.

Tips for making Mushroom Bolognese

1 - I based this recipe on my classic Bolognese sauce which I learned to make in Bologna, Italy. I omitted the bacon and had to upp the flavours by using some umami rich ingredients.

2 - These umami rich ingredients are: shiitake mushrooms (dried are best, they have a stronger flavour), Vegemite (use other yeast spreads like Promite or Marmite if you like), tomato paste (this is used in Bolognese sauce) and soy sauce. You can buy dried shiitake mushrooms at the supermarket.

3 - To make this completely vegan, replace the beef stock cubes with vegan beef stock. Massel's beef stock is actually vegan.

4 - I use a food processor/Thermomix for all of the chopping because I hate chopping onions and there's a lot of vegetables to chop. Use the Thermomix on speed #5 for 10 seconds, scraping down and repeating if needed.

5 - This sauce improves over time so make this a day or two ahead of time.

6 - It's absolutely delicious in place of Bolognese beef so use it with pasta, or on top of baked potatoes or in sloppy joes!

Vegan Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese

I made a huge batch of this and left it for Mr NQN when I went away. It was good because I could give him variety as it had so many ways it could be served from potatoes, pasta and toasties. It was so easy to make up a big batch too as I was a bit time poor. I was heading to America and the night before I went to bed early to watch tv (Selling Sunset S6!) but like that very strange thing that strikes you just before you're relaxing and you wonder where your birth certificate is, I thought, "I wonder if my travel insurance is still valid?". And then I realised that it had expired. I think you'd be crazy to go overseas without especially America so I signed up and then sat back and relaxed, crisis averted).

Then my phone pinged. It was a text from Qantas telling me that I could check in. Excitedly I added my details including my new passport. Then they told me that they couldn't check me in because they couldn't find my ESTA details. I already had an ESTA from 6 months prior but it was tied to my old passport so I quickly applied for it and sat back and waited. Last time it took an hour for approval but this time an hour passed. It was now almost midnight and I decided to check my ESTA status. "No application received" it read.

Vegan Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese

By this time Mr NQN came upstairs and I was approaching panic mode. I had a receipt but I had no trace of my application. Then I applied a second time perhaps wondering if I had missed a step. Again there nothing on the "check ESTA" page. I tried emailing them but nothing. I found a number and I called them. In my panic I forgot to put in 0011 before the number because I haven't called overseas in a decade because internet. I signed up to Skype and then paid a fee to call the US only for it to not work. By this time I was wide eyed, clammy and panicking. Teddy grabbed his squeaky toy and keyed up the tension by squeaking relentlessly until I took it off him which made him meepy and moany. I finally got a hold of someone and in a calm, helpful voice she asked me how much I had paid for my ESTA. "$89USD" I told her.

She explained that an ESTA is actually only $21USD and that I had somehow clicked on the wrong link and it was one of those services that applied for you (and collected $68USD for their trouble). Although I had filled out the same information I still couldn't believe that I had fallen for it, especially someone that travels a lot! I thanked her for her help and applied. I couldn't sleep until the email came and within an hour it did. And exhausted around 2am I finally fell asleep.

It was not my smartest moment...

So tell me Dear Reader, do you like the idea of a mushroom bolognese? Has anything like that ESTA situation ever happened to you?

Vegan Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese

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An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 20 +20 minutes soaking time

Cooking time: 60 minutes

Serves: 6 with pasta

  • 50g/1.7ozs dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup/250ml/8.8flozs. boiling water
  • Extra virgin olive oil for frying
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
  • 500g/1.1lbs white or brown mushrooms, diced
  • 2.5-3 cups hot water
  • 5 beef stock cubes (replace with vegan beef stock)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 180g/6ozs. tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons Vegemite
  • 400g/14ozs. pasta sauce (use your favourite)
  • Salt and lots of black pepper to season

Vegan Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese
Dried shiitake mushrooms rehydrating

Step 1 - First rehydrate the dried shiitake mushrooms in the boiling water. Cover with a plate and make sure all of the mushrooms are submerged in the water. Allow to absorb for 20-30 minutes. Take out mushrooms from the water, but keep the water. Squeeze excess water back into the bowl and then remove the stalk and discard. Finely chop these too (or place in a food processor/chopper). Make up the 3 cups of water with the reserved mushroom soaking liquid and top up with hot water. Stir in the stock cubes (or vegan stock) to create an intensely flavoured beef stock and set aside.

Vegan Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese

Step 2 - While they're hydrating I get on with chopping and sautéing the rest. You can definitely chop it all in the Thermomix or a food processor to save time. Add some oil to a large cast iron pot on medium heat. Fry the onion and carrot together until softened, around 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic. The add both types of finely chopped mushrooms and add a bit more oil. Sauté to release any water and then add 1/2 cup of the beef stock and the wine and allow it to absorb.

Vegan Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese

Step 3 - Add the tomato paste, soy sauce and Vegemite and keep adding beef stock 1/2 cup at a time allowing it to absorb. Keep cooking for 30 minutes or so so that the mushrooms absorb all the flavour into them and no longer taste woody or dry. Finally add in the pasta sauce and taste for seasoning. It will probably need some salt (depending on how salty your stock cubes are) and I like to add a lot of black pepper too.

Vegan Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese

Vegan Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese

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