Chickpea Bolognese

April  5, 2014
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 40 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

I love a good Bolognese and often make it with a variety of meats, including ground turkey as an alternative to pork, veal, or beef. This time I gave it a shot with chickpeas and it turned out rather well... —inpatskitchen

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Inpatskitchen is a retired teacher, paralegal, and a four-time contest winner.
WHAT: Your new go-to sauce.
HOW: A classic mirepoix is done quickly in a food processor, then you sauté a parade of ingredients; simmer; briefly blend; and pile it all atop pasta.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Don't be fooled by the beans -- this sauce is deeply flavored and complex, rich from a little cream and earthy from dried porcini. Spooned onto pasta or polenta with a shower of Parmesan, this has us forgetting all about the Italian classic. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 ounces pancetta (or bacon in a pinch) chopped
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas, or two 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional but oh so good!)
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes (or another good plum tomato)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup light cream or half and half
  • 1 pinch salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 handful Parmesan cheese for finishing
  • 1 pound dried pasta, cooked to al dente
  1. Pour the cup of boiling water over the porcini and let steep for about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and pancetta in the bowl of a food processor and process until not quite smooth. You want a little texture here.
  3. Heat the 4 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven and add the chickpeas. Sauté over medium heat for a few minutes, making sure the chickpeas are coated with the oil. Add the processed mixture and continue to sauté until the vegetables soften and become fragrant.
  4. Add the basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes and continue to sauté another minute or two. Remove the porcini mushrooms from the soaking liquid and chop finely. Add them to the pot. Strain and reserve the liquid.
  5. With your clean hands, crush the tomatoes and add them to the pot along with the wine and the porcini soaking liquid. Bring up to a simmer and simmer, partially covered, for about an hour. Stir occasionally.
  6. After an hour, use an immersion blender to break down about half of the chickpeas. Add the light cream and bring back up to a simmer. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Off the heat, stir in the torn basil leaves.
  7. Serve over pasta garnished with Parmesan and drizzled with a little olive oil if you like.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • em-i-lis
  • BlondeApple
  • Xtinabytes
  • Danielle
  • meli6

Recipe by: inpatskitchen

I think I get my love for food and cooking from my mom, who was an amazing cook. She would start baking and freezing a month before Christmas in order to host our huge open house on Christmas afternoon. I watched and I learned...to this day I try not to procrastinate when it comes to entertaining. My cooking style is pretty much all over the place, although I'm definitely partial to Greek and Italian cuisine. Oh yes, throw a little Cajun in there too!

88 Reviews

kpks January 28, 2019
Dried mushrooms are hard to come by here. Can I use fresh button/oyster mushrooms?
inpatskitchen January 28, 2019
I think that would work...I'd brown the mushrooms well and then finely chop before adding. Hope it works out for you!
JORJ April 4, 2016
Also I have made this without the pancetta before and added some fresh shiitakes and it was yummy, for those trying to make it a vegetarian dish.
JORJ April 4, 2016
I made this last night and made a few happy tweaks kinda by accident. I was getting ready to put the tomatoes in and found that my home canned tomato was not sealed properly so couldn't use it... I used a 6oz can of tomato paste instead and it meant that the sauce was ready a LOT faster. It turns this recipe into a Sunday-only kind of thing to a weeknight recipe!
inpatskitchen April 4, 2016
Thanks JORJ! I like your tweaks!
em-i-lis February 26, 2016
Making this for dinner tonight and can't wait!! What is your favorite veggie side to serve with it? A simple salad?
inpatskitchen February 26, 2016
Yes...a simple Italian type lettuce salad! Thanks for making this..please let me know what you think!
em-i-lis February 26, 2016
This was absolutely lovely, Pat. I had seconds! :) Thanks!
inpatskitchen February 27, 2016
So happy!
BlondeApple December 18, 2015
This dish was a great variation from usual bolognese and so delicious! Definitely enough sauce to feed a crowd. Only wondering if for next this sauce would freeze well as I had it for dinner for my husband and I and two toddlers with plenty of leftovers..... Maybe if I omitted the cream?
inpatskitchen December 18, 2015
I think it's certainly worth a try..and yes wait to add the cream when you reheat. (you may have to add a little extra liquid also) So happy you all enjoyed!
JORJ December 9, 2015
I made this last night with some substitutions just because I didn't want to go out and buy anything. We used a leek instead of an onion and dried shiitakes instead of porcinis. I was really surprised by how much we made. I only used one can of chickpeas and skipped the immersion blender part. It was really really good. Definitely more than the sum of its parts and so warming and filling. Can't wait to make it again.
inpatskitchen December 9, 2015
I like your substitutions! Thanks so much JORJ!
Javan August 1, 2015
What an amazing dish!

I cooked this dish for my meat loving friends and they actually went back for seconds! Instead of dried porcini I used fresh baby creminis. I sautéed the mushrooms in a separate pan then added them to the finished product. Also, instead of light cream I used mascarpone. I will be adding this recipe to my book. I hope my future husband likes chickpeas because I'll be making this at least once a week! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!
inpatskitchen August 1, 2015
Thank YOU Javan! And your changes sound wonderful!
Xtinabytes May 31, 2015
Making this for the 2nd time in as many weeks. Everyone loved it and it just as good the next day.
inpatskitchen June 1, 2015
Thanks so much! Sure happy everyone enjoyed!
Angella April 12, 2015
Made this for dinner last night and what a delight! The recipe is very forgiving as I didn't have quite a number of the ingredients but it was still delicious. No pancetta as I am vegetarian and I used "cashew cheese". Even my boyfriend who is a meat eater cleaned his bowl. Froze the balance and I expect it to be just as good...Yum.
inpatskitchen April 12, 2015
Thanks Angella! So happy you and your boyfriend enjoyed!
Danielle April 3, 2015
Brilliant! Lush and nutritious. Even my dad, a "meat and potatoes" guy, loved it. Thank you!
inpatskitchen April 3, 2015
Thank YOU Danielle!
meli6 March 23, 2015
My family loves garbonzo beans so this recipe was awesome. I braised it in my
Le Cresuet and served it with pappardelle. Delicious as the recipe is written. Many gracious sounds from everyone chowing down !
inpatskitchen March 23, 2015
Thanks so much meli6! So glad you all enjoyed!
jstew52 January 13, 2015
This was great! Did not need the cream. I pureed 1/2 as instructed but perhaps next time would skip this as it gave it an unappealing visual.
inpatskitchen January 13, 2015
So happy you enjoyed! Thanks!
Lynne P. December 31, 2014
Making this now... I should squeeze the SM tomatoes into the Dutch oven but not add the juice from the can? Pls advise. Thanks!
inpatskitchen December 31, 2014
Add all the juice from the can(s) Lynne.
Javan August 1, 2015
Ahhh...I should've read the comments first :). I did not add the juice from the can but there was more than enough liquid.
April L. December 6, 2014
I just made this today.

inpatskitchen December 6, 2014
Thanks so much April!
foodipes November 10, 2014
great recipe :) looking forward to try this
inpatskitchen November 10, 2014
Thanks so much! Sure hope you enjoy!
Horto October 17, 2014
great idea!
love classic dishes but would rather not eat meat
inpatskitchen October 17, 2014
Thanks Horto! And some have said you can skip the pancetta although I've never tried it. Hope you enjoy!
James M. June 15, 2014
This was amazing! Made it exactly as written. Great leftovers too, if you can leave anything uneaten!
inpatskitchen June 15, 2014
Thank you so much James! Had I not set a little aside for my photo, ours would have been completely gone also. So happy you enjoyed!
Marsha G. June 12, 2014
Made this recently with wagon wheels. I would've liked more sauce but then, I always want more sauce! Still, this is a very tasty and filling recipe to only have in it a little pancetta/bacon, a few 'shrooms, and a bunch of chickpeas. A definite keeper.
inpatskitchen June 12, 2014
So glad you enjoyed this Marsha...thanks!
ktjk May 28, 2014
Thinking of making this, but I can't do dairy. Do you think the cream is integral to the dish? Trying to think of what to sub, maybe just up the olive oil and add some broth?
inpatskitchen May 28, 2014
I think that would be fine...please let me know how it turns out for you!
CatalunaLilith July 22, 2014
Cashew cream would likely work very well, and is vegan and would add protein.

The cream isn't integral to the sauce happening, as long as you substitute the right amount of liquid, but the creamy element helps greatly to mellow the sauce and balance the acidity of the tomatoes
ghainskom May 26, 2014
Very nice. Worth getting a higher-quality pancetta. Ours gave the sauce a nice smokey taste. My 7 yo picked out the chickpeas that were left whole, stating she didn't like them. Little did she know she was eating pureed ones in the sauce, little fool! Not to mention celery! *evil mom grin*
inpatskitchen May 26, 2014
Love it ! I love fooling the little devils! Thanks so much...so happy you all enjoyed!