Inspired by her best friend, my teenage daughter decided to eat vegetarian. Which would have been easy, except for her two carnivorous brothers. So I took to developing vegetarian versions of our favorite meat dishes: they were more appealing to my sons, and on the days the boys insisted on having meat, I could cook two versions of the same dish, simply switching out the meat for a vegetable alternative while leaving the other ingredients--and flavors--the same.
Bolognese sauce--or as we like to call it, Ragu'--is rich, filling, and a clear favorite in my house. I found that diced cremini mushrooms made a satisfying substitute for ground beef. That was easy! This recipe does not include onions because my family is very sensitive to FODMAPs.
Scoop some pasta into a bowl, top with a generous spoonful of this sauce, garnish with a grating of parmesan, and it's pure comfort food. —Windischgirl
1 1/2 tablespoons
olive oil, divided
celery, including leaves, cut into 1/8-inch dice (about 1 1/2 stalks)
carrots, cut into 1/8-inch dice (about 2 carrots)
small clove garlic, crushed
cremini mushrooms, cut into 1/8-inch dice
black olives, cut into 1/8-inch dice
tomato puree (can use a combination of puree and paste)
whole milk or half-and-half (I use a low fat half-and-half without HFCS)
minced fennel fronds, or a generous pinch of fennel seed
minced fresh chives
fresh or dried rosemary, minced
Your favorite pasta--we like spirals or penne, which trap the sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated parmesan and red pepper flakes to serve
In This Recipe
Have all vegetables chopped and ingredients measured out.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, over medium heat, saute the celery, carrots, and garlic in half the oil. Add a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally until the vegetables soften and start to brown.
Add the rest of the oil, followed by the mushrooms added all at once. Stir well and turn up the heat a bit. Add another pinch of salt and continue stirring until the mushrooms begin to give up their liquid. Keep an eye on the pot and stir from time to time. When the liquid is nearly all evaporated, turn the heat to low.
Stir in the olives, then add about 1/2 cup of the milk, a little at a time, waiting for it to be absorbed. Stir in the tomato sauce, then add the herbs, salt and pepper. Mix well. Continue adding in the milk, a little at a time, to achieve the right texture: the sauce should be moist but not soupy, but it's better to err on the side of runnier instead of drier. Cover the pot and let the mixture heat through for another five minutes.
You can serve the bolognese over pasta at this point, but we prefer to make the sauce a day ahead to let the flavors mingle. Garnish with freshly grated cheese and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Note: For committed carnivores, 1 lb. of grass-fed ground beef may be substituted for the diced mushrooms.