This vegan spaghetti Bolognese is made with TVP, mushrooms, and lots of vegetables for a dinner that's hearty, full-bodied and a great meatless version of the classic recipe. This is a fuss-free recipe that's easy to make using budget-friendly ingredients you probably have in your pantry already. Freezer-friendly and amazing for meal prep!
I think that spaghetti Bolognese is one of those nostalgic meals that everyone loves. I remember it was my favourite back in the day, and I'd rush home from school excitedly if I knew it was on the menu. This amazing pasta dish is one that never gets boring, and great for impressing even fussy eaters. And I can be on the fussy side for sure - I don't do well with bland food!
Concerning my love for hearty Bolognese sauces, not much changed since I went vegan in 2016. In fact, after making veggie Bolognese plenty of times, my love intensified. I loved the process of testing and developing my go-to recipe that vegans and non-vegans can enjoy. And I'm so excited to finally share it with you! Add it to your dinner rotation, and I guarantee it won't disappoint. Particularly if you're a huge pasta fan like myself!
You need to try this vegan spaghetti Bolognese!
Traditional Bolognese is believed to originate from Bologna, Italy (although there is some debate surrounding this). In fact, traditional Bolognese does not involve spaghetti at all, but a wider pasta variety, like tagliatelle. Aside from that, it involves a slow-cooked ragù with vegetables and a tomato sauce. The ingredients, however, vary from region to region.
So, this meatless Bolognese is by no means traditional, but makes a fantastic plant based alternative. This means that if you want to eat more vegan meals, you definitely don't have to miss out on a favorite! In fact, I often serve this recipe to my omnivore friends and family, and it impresses every time.
My vegetarian spaghetti Bolognese is made with textured vegetable protein, or TVP. TVP, which is a great meatless mince alternative, is made from soy flour and is super popular in vegan cuisine. The unflavored version has a great texture, and the versatility is incredible. For instance, I have previously used it to make soy mince and pea stew, which is a reader favorite.
So, if you're after a comforting meat-free Bolognese recipe that's full-bodied, with a complex flavor profile, but still made with simple ingredients, this one is great for you! It's also fuss-free, so you don't have to be an expert in the kitchen to make it perfectly from scratch.
You need just simple, accessible ingredients to make an amazing vegetarian Bolognese sauce:
- Good quality olive oil. Using a good quality olive oil really makes a big difference to the final flavor profile of the dish, helping to add depth when sautéing the vegetables.
- The vegetables: I used peppers, onions, garlic, celery, carrots and fresh tomatoes. I would say that the celery and onion are very essential for creating the signature flavor of a bolognese sauce, so don't leave them out. But if you have other vegetables in the fridge that need using up, feel free to add them in.
- Ginger paste, or fresh grated ginger. This will make your kitchen smell amazing! Most large supermarkets sell ginger paste in tubes or jars, which is the easiest to use.
- Mushrooms. These are also essential for adding flavor and texture alike. I used Cremini mushrooms, but ordinary button mushrooms also work.
- The spices: cumin and paprika. These work together well to create richness and a savory, earthy flavor.
- Textured vegetable protein. You will see that it comes in many different varieties. Choose the one that resembles the texture of mince, and that is unflavored.
- Nutritional yeast. This is a fortified yeast that comes in the form of flakes and is popular in vegan cooking for adding a cheesy flavor to various dishes.
- Canned chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Once again, using quality ingredients here is essential for creating the best depth and richness of flavor.
- Dark chocolate. This may seem odd, but it works well in recipes such as spaghetti Bolognese and chili to improve the texture, and also balance out the acidity of the tomatoes.
- Coconut sugar. Once again, this adds a hint of sweetness for an overall sense of balance in the flavor profile of the sauce. Don't worry, as long as you don't add too much, it won't taste overly sweet!
- Lemon juice. I would recommend using a whole lemon for freshly-squeezed juice. This is added right at the end for a hint of tanginess.
How to make vegetarian Bolognese with mushrooms
Start by heating the olive oil in a large, non-stick saucepan or Dutch oven over a medium heat. Now add the bell peppers, onion, celery, garlic and ginger paste. Cook for around 5 minutes, until the vegetables are softened and fragrant. Meanwhile, add water or vegetable broth to the TVP and allow it to soak for 10 minutes.
Now add the carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, tomato paste, cumin and paprika. Cook for 5 minutes more, until the vegetables soften, and make sure to stir frequently.
Drain and rinse the TVP and add it to the pan together with the nutritional yeast, canned tomatoes and dark chocolate. Stir together until the chocolate melts, then continue to simmer over a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the sauce starts to dry out, add extra vegetable stock.
After around 15 minutes of simmering the sauce, start cooking the spaghetti according to packaging instructions.
Now stir in the coconut sugar and lemon juice. Continue to cook for 5 minutes more, stirring once every couple of minutes. At the end, season to taste with salt and pepper. You are now ready to serve with spaghetti, or another pasta variety of your choice.
- You can add any vegetables of your choice that you have in the fridge.
- Simply use gluten-free spaghetti in order to keep the whole dish gluten-free.
- The TVP can be replaced with crumbled tofu or tempeh. Alternatively, I have a lentil Bolognese recipe you can also try, which is another reader favorite!
- The nutritional yeast can be left out, or replaced with grated vegan cheese.
- The dark chocolate can be left out if you wish, but it really does make an amazing difference to the final result!
- Instead of the coconut sugar, you can use maple syrup or any other liquid sweetener of your choice.
Top tips for the best vegan spaghetti Bolognese!
- In order to keep this vegan spaghetti Bolognese thick and rich, make sure not to add too much liquid at first. Add a little bit at a time if it starts to dry out.
- If you want to thicken the sauce further, you can add a few tbsps of flour or cornstarch at the end of the cooking process.
- Make sure to dice the vegetables finely in order to ensure the best texture. If you want to save time, do this as part of your meal prep routine ahead of time, so that the vegetables are ready when you want to make this for dinner.
- Cook the spaghetti until al dente, as to make sure that it's not mushy.
- Salt the pasta water right before adding the spaghetti. This will help the cooking process, and also make the pasta itself more flavorful.
Instructions for storage and freezing
Vegan spaghetti Bolognese is an amazing option for meal prep. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days, when the sauce is stored together with the pasta. The sauce by itself can be stored for up to 4. You can reheat on the stove, or in the microwave in 60 second intervals until fully warmed through.
The bolognese sauce is also freezer-friendly. You can store it in either freezer-friendly containers, or individual freezer bags, leaving a little bit of room for the sauce to expand. Before reheating, leave in the fridge overnight to thaw fully. Add extra liquid as necessary when reheating.
How to serve vegan Bolognese sauce
As you can see, I served with veggie spaghetti Bolognese with spaghetti, of course. But traditionally, Bolognese sauce is actually served with a wider pasta variety such as tagliatelle. You can use any other pasta variety of your choice, such as rigatoni or penne. For extra protein, use edamame pasta.
I also love serving this hearty & warming Bolognese sauce with zucchini or sweet potato noodles. It goes super well with my simple sweet potato and zucchini salad, especially in the summer!
Other amazing plant based pasta sauces
- Try roasted red pepper pasta for a comforting and wholesome dinner!
- My one pot chickpea pasta is cozy & super easy to make.
- For a summery side dish, try a creamy vegan pasta salad.
- My avocado pasta is ready in just 10 minutes!
- Vegan butternut squash pasta is made with delicious roasted vegetables!
If you give this vegan spaghetti Bolognese a go, be sure to tag me on Instagram (@ohmyveggies) and leave your feedback in the comments below together with a star rating! I love hearing from you!
- Saucepan or Dutch oven
- Large bowl
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup bell pepper diced
- 1 cup onion diced
- 1 cup celery chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 1 ½ cups textured vegetable protein
- 1 large carrot peeled and diced
- 1 cup fresh tomatoes diced
- 1 ½ cups mushrooms diced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp paprika
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 oz dark chocolate
- 10 oz spaghetti
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- ¼ cup lemon juice (1 whole lemon)
- ½ tsp salt or to taste
- ½ tsp pepper or to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick saucepan or Dutch oven over a medium heat. Now add the bell peppers, onion, celery, garlic and ginger paste. Cook for around 5 minutes, until the vegetables are softened and fragrant.
- Add water or vegetable broth to the TVP and allow it to soak for 10 minutes.
- Add the carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, tomato paste, cumin and paprika. Cook for 5 minutes more, until the vegetables soften, and make sure to stir frequently.
- Drain and rinse the TVP and add it to the pan together with the nutritional yeast, canned tomatoes and dark chocolate. Stir together until the chocolate melts, then continue to simmer over a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the sauce starts to dry out, add extra vegetable stock.
- After around 15 minutes of simmering the sauce, start cooking the spaghetti according to packaging instructions.
- Stir in the coconut sugar and lemon juice. Continue to cook for 5 minutes more, stirring once every couple of minutes. At the end, season to taste with salt and pepper.
- This vegan spaghetti Bolognese keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days, when the sauce is stored together with the pasta. The sauce by itself can be stored for up to 4. You can reheat on the stove, or in the microwave in 60 second intervals until fully warmed through.
- To freeze, you can store it in either freezer-friendly containers, or individual freezer bags, leaving a little bit of room for the sauce to expand. Before reheating, leave in the fridge overnight to thaw fully. Add extra liquid as necessary when reheating.