What is a vegetarian substitution for pancetta/bacon? Does recipe work if you just omit the meat or can you use something else?

  • Posted by: Karen
  • April 30, 2014
Chickpea Bolognese
Recipe question for: Chickpea Bolognese


Nancy H. May 4, 2014
When I write Italian recipes for vegetarians, I often just up the content of olive oil by a couple of tablespoons to take the place of missing pancetta, prosciutto, or other meat. But in this case, the recipe already calls for 4 tablespoons which I think is plenty. If you're truly a vegetarian, you won't be looking for a "meaty" flavor in any case, and if the result doesn't satisfy, you can always dribble a little more well-flavored olive oil on top -- and I'd use a Tuscan oil in this particular case.
sexyLAMBCHOPx May 2, 2014
Although the recipe uses porcini mushrooms, substituting cubed Portobello mushrooms may work nicely.
Tashipluto May 2, 2014
I agree with using anchovies to sub for pancetta and/or bacon, but if you don't eat fish, try smoked pressed tofu -- I think Tofu Lin is the best.
Karen May 2, 2014
Thanks so much - I was unaware of this tofu product and will certainly try it.
Julie April 30, 2014
Smoked paprika is a good substitute for the smokiness of bacon. It's really tasty but can be strong, so be sure to add it to taste.
Regine April 30, 2014
The flavor of pancetta and/or bacon adds to a dish what I think is called "umami," which to me means depth of flavor. I find that a good substitute is anchovies and/or herring paste, that is of course assuming that as a vegetarian you eat fish. Try a couple of anchovies in the recipe.
pierino April 30, 2014
This is not my recipe, but the absence of meat turns it into something other than Bolognese. The classic Bolognese sauce includes a mixture of meats including chicken livers.
HalfPint April 30, 2014
Try simmering with a parmigiano reggiano rind or add some grated to the sauce.
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