Mushroom Bolognese

Make this easy vegan mushroom bolognese  – a healthy and meatless spin on the Italian pasta sauce classic. Shiitake and brown bottom mushrooms add umami and lots of earthy flavor to this rich and hearty homemade vegan bolognese sauce! 

a pot of vegan mushroom bolognese mixed with fettuccine

When I think of the ultimate comfort food, my mind automatically pictures a pot of rich and hearty pasta sauce bubbling away on the stovetop while I put on the pasta water.

Now here are a couple of things I came to realize about comfort food in general and pasta dishes in particular!  A good pasta sauce does not need an ounce of meat to be flavorful and hearty! And it certainly does not need to take all day (I am looking at you fastest ever marinara sauce)!

That’s where this Vegan Mushroom Bolognese comes in. It’s everything I love about a classic, slow-cooked pasta sauce — without relying on meat for heartiness. It boasts an amazing depth of flavor, that signature earthy flavor of mushrooms, and the cooking process is so easy, that you just might fall in love with this dish!

vegan mushroom bolognese tossed with fettuccine pasta in a pasta bowl

The secret of a hearty vegan bolognese – picking the right mushrooms!

As I am not huge of tofu, tempeh and seitan, mushrooms are my go-to meat replacement – check out my mushroom stroganoff, or my mushroom carnitas!  SO GOOD!

And they work just as well when it comes to replacing ground meat, helping this vegan bolognese sauce to develop many of the rich, complex flavors we expect from a good ragu!

Here, I recommend umami-rich mushrooms like portobello, porcini, brown button or shiitake. If you cannot find fresh shiitake, that is no problem at all. Quite the opposite! Dried shiitake mushrooms pack even more flavor.

If you’ve never cooked with dried shiitake mushrooms before, it’s easy: A 20-minute soak in hot water is all they need to rehydrate. As they soak, you can prep the rest of your ingredients.

To even further improve your vegan bolognese sauce we can add other flavorings, like a splash of soy sauce and of course, some red wine.

vegan mushroom bolognese pasta with soy sauce and vegan parmesan in the background

How to make Mushroom Bolognese:

picture collage demonstrating how to sautee veggies to make vegan mushroom bolognese

Step 1 – Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook for about 10 minutes until softened. Add garlic and oregano, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes, avoid putting too much color to it.

Step 2 – Add red wine and bay leaves. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer for about 10 minutes until wine is almost completely reduced (You can see metal when the bubbles pop). Transfer to a larger pot which you can let stand aside, but keep your skillet handy, you’ll be using it again right away after a quick clean.

picture collage demonstrating how to make vegan mushroom bolognese

Step 3 – Add remaining oil to the skillet (3 tbsp) `and bring it up to temperature over medium-high heat. Add all mushrooms and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the liquid completely evaporates and the mushrooms are well-browned. Stir in tomato and miso paste until completely incorporated.

Step 4 – Add canned tomatoes and cook, use a wooden spoon to scrape all the lovely brown bits off the bottom of the pan while you do so. This should take no less than 5 minutes for the tomatoes to lose their “tinned” taste. Add this to the pot of vegetables that you set aside earlier, along with the soy sauce and almond milk.

vegan mushroom bolognese sauce being tossed with fettuccine pasta in a silver pot

Step 5 – Bring your combined sauce back up to heat while stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a light simmer once it starts to bubble. Leave it to simmer for about an hour with the lid on, stirring occasionally, letting all your flavors fully develop. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta

Step 6 – As you’re getting close to meal-time, salt your pasta water (plenty – it should taste like the sea) and cook to al dente. Pappardelle tends to cook quickly (5-ish minutes, less if you buy it fresh) so keep an eye on it! Scoop out ½ cup of that good starchy pasta water before draining and add it to your vegan mushroom sauce.

Now add your drained pasta to the sauce and blast it quickly over high heat, stir heavily to help reduce and incorporate all that pasta water until the sauce is thick and beautiful and your pasta is evenly coated. Garnish and serve.

pasta with mushroom bolognese in a silver pot with a fork

How to Store Mushroom Bolognese?

Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The sauce can also be frozen up to 2 months.

a fork twirling fettuccine pasta with mushroom bolognese and vegan parmesan

 

Tips:

  • You can find dried shiitake mushrooms in most grocery stores in the international section, the Asian section, or near the dried spices.
  • If you cannot find shiitake, use porcini!
  • As for serving, I recommend a broad pasta like pappardelle or fettuccine. But if pasta isn’t your thing, you can serve this Mushroom Bolognese over a bowl of polenta, cauliflower rice, or mashed potatoes for an equally hearty meal.
  • If you don’t want to use miso paste, or just can’t find it, you can use half as much Marmite (1 Tbsp) or double the quantity of soy sauce (4 Tbsp)
  • I love this pasta served with lots and lots of homemade vegan parmesan.
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms are preferable here to the fresh ones, as the dry ones will really give you a better variance of texture. They become the lovely chewy bits, whereas if you use fresh ones, their texture kind of gets lost in with the rest of the sauce.
5 from 4 votes
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Vegan Mushroom Bolognese

Make this easy vegan mushroom bolognese  -a healthy and meatless spin on the Italian pasta sauce classic. Shiitake and brown bottom mushrooms add umami and lots of earthy flavor to this rich and hearty homemade vegan bolognese sauce! 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword vegan bolognese, vegan mushroom sauce
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 4 -6
Calories 896 kcal

Ingredients

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil divided, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium onion finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1-2 medium carrots finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 large stalks celery finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 4 medium cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 pound button mushrooms, finely chopped 450g
  • 12 ounces shiitake mushrooms 340g - stems discarded, caps finely chopped (if reconstituting dried, roughly 30 caps) see note below
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons white or red miso paste
  • 1 28 can whole peeled tomatoes roughly broken up by hand
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¾ cup almond milk
  • 1 pound pappardelle 450g - (or other band/ribbon noodles)
  • garnish with parsley and parmesan if not fully vegan

Instructions

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook for about 10 minutes until softened. Add garlic and oregano, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes, avoid putting too much color to it.

  2. Add red wine and bay leaves. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer for about 10 minutes until wine is almost completely reduced (You can see metal when the bubbles pop). Transfer to a larger pot which you can let stand aside, but keep your skillet handy, you’ll be using it again right away after a quick clean.

    Add remaining oil to the skillet (3 tbsp) `and bring it up to temperature over medium-high heat. Add all mushrooms and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the liquid completely evaporates and the mushrooms are well-browned. Stir in tomato and miso paste until completely incorporated.

  3. Add canned tomatoes and cook, use a wooden spoon to scrape all the lovely brown bits off the bottom of the pan while you do so. This should take no less than 5 minutes for the tomatoes to lose their “tinned” taste. Add this to the pot of vegetables that you set aside earlier, along with the soy sauce and almond milk.

  4.  Bring your combined sauce back up to heat while stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a light simmer once it starts to bubble. Leave it to simmer for about an hour with the lid on, stirring occasionally, letting all your flavors fully develop. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  5. As you’re getting close to meal-time, salt your pasta water (most important step!) and cook to al dente. Pappardelle tends to cook rather quickly (5-ish minutes, less if fresh) so keep an eye on it! Scoop out ½ cup of pasta water before draining and add it to your mushroom sauce. Now add your drained pasta to the sauce and blast it quickly over high heat, stir heavily to help reduce and incorporate all that pasta water until the sauce is thick and beautiful and your pasta is evenly coated. Garnish and serve.

Recipe Notes

  • Be sure to read all the tips in the blog post above!
  • To reconstitute dried shiitake mushrooms, put your roughly 30 dried mushroom caps into a heat-safe bowl (stem-side down for easier cutting later) and pour near-boiling water over them until they’re all floating.
  • Let them sit for 20 min. Before mincing them, be sure to squeeze them out firmly, but feel free to save that liquid that you squeeze out of them. Add it to your sauce just before you let it all simmer on the stove for an hour.
Nutrition Facts
Vegan Mushroom Bolognese
Amount Per Serving
Calories 896 Calories from Fat 306
% Daily Value*
Fat 34g52%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 95mg32%
Sodium 1076mg47%
Potassium 1256mg36%
Carbohydrates 105g35%
Fiber 10g42%
Sugar 11g12%
Protein 25g50%
Vitamin A 2975IU60%
Vitamin C 11mg13%
Calcium 143mg14%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

If you tried this Vegan Mushroom Bolognese Recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe below and let me know how it went in the comments – I love hearing from you! You can also follow me on InstagramPinterest and Facebook for more deliciousness and behind-the-scenes!

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8 Comments
  1. We tried this as our meatless monday recipe and it turned out great. My husband really loved it and already asked when i’d be making it again

  2. This looks so good! I love the combination of shiitake and button mushrooms, especially paired with the miso paste. So much flavor!

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