CREMINI MUSHROOM AND WALNUT VEGAN BOLOGNESE PASTA SAUCE
Calories per serving: 193
A rich, hearty, vegan Bolognese sauce made with mushrooms and walnut 'meat,' simple seasonings and a whole lotta love.
- 280 grams fresh cremini mushrooms cleaned
- 1 cup walnut pieces
- 1 yellow onion cut into 5 cm pieces
- 2 carrots cut into 5 cm pieces
- 2 celery ribs cut into 5 cm pieces
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 170 grams can tomato paste (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 800 grams can whole San Marzano tomatoes LIQUID RESERVED, smashed with a potato masher or chopped
- 1 cup dry red wine (or sub 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar + 1 cup more water)
- 1 cup water
- Fresh thyme sprigs tied tightly together into a bundle with string. (see notes)
- 1 bay leaf
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Optional: Serve with pasta or polenta
- Optional: Top with almond ricotta
- Optional: Garnish with fresh basil
- Place 1/2 of the mushrooms in a food processor, and pulse several times until finely ground. (Don't over process - see notes.) Transfer the ground mushrooms to a bowl,
- Place the walnuts in the food processor and process until finely ground. Transfer them to the bowl with the mushrooms.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of water in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and the walnuts and cook until the all of the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms have browned, about 8-10 minutes. Remove the mushroom/walnut mixture from the pot and set aside. (Don't clean out the pan; if there are areas of burned food, just scrape those out.)
- Wipe out the food processor, and add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Process into a rough 'pulp,' about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of water in the pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable pulp (onions, carrots, celery and garlic) with a pinch of salt to the pot. Sauté until all of the liquid cooks off, the colour turns from bright orange to a deeper orange-brown, and the volume is reduced by about half, about 10-12 minutes. Use the liquid released from the pulp to deglaze (loosen) any dark brown remnants of the mushroom/walnut mixture and blend it in. Stir and scrape loose any browned bits from the pan if they form. Add water a little at a time if things begin to stick or get too brown.
- Move the browned pulp aside to the edges of the pot, leaving an empty spot in the centre. Add the tomato paste to the centre of the pot, and cook about 5 minutes until it begins to brown and get dark, but not burn. (Keep stirring and scraping, adding water 1 teaspoon at a time and reducing heat a bit only if things start to get too dark or burn.) When the tomato paste has browned, stir it into the vegetable pulp.
- Add the red wine (or vinegar, if using instead) to the pot to deglaze (loosen) and scrape up all of the brown bits ("fond") that have formed in the pan--this adds flavour!
- Add the mushroom/walnut mixture, and stir well to combine everything.
- Add the smashed tomatoes and their liquid, water, and crushed red pepper flakes to the pot and stir well. Bring the sauce to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes so that the alcohol from the wine cooks off.
- Add the thyme bundle and bay leaf, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes--or even better, one hour or more.
- Before serving, remove the thyme bundle (and any loose stems) and the bay leaf, and season with sea salt, to taste.
- Serve with polenta or pasta.