Portobello Bolognese Pasta

February 26, 2018
2 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

From Anya Kassoff’s Simply Vibrant cookbook: "It’s hard to imagine a better ingredient than portobello mushrooms for making an inspired, plant-based version of Bolognese. Portobellos, big-capped and plump, have it all in terms of meatiness and earthy savoriness. To achieve more of that full-bodied flavor usually associated with the hearty pasta dish, this recipe utilizes balsamic-soaked prunes, which add a dark, rich dimension."

Featured in: The Secret Ingredient for a Next-Level Vegetarian Bolognese.

Reprinted from Simply Vibrant by Anya Kassoff © 2018 by Anya Kassoff. Photographs © 2018 by Masha Davydova. Reprinted in arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. —Anya Kassoff

What You'll Need
  • 5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 5 large prunes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons neutral coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and diced
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds (680g) portobello mushrooms, stemmed and cut into bite-size cubes
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 small chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • Leaves form 3 to 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • one 14 oz (397 g) can or box of diced tomatoes
  • one 14 oz (397 g) package whole wheat (or other whole grain) spaghetti
  • Handful of fresh parsley leaves, minced
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn (optional)
  • Grated Parmesan, for garnish (optional)
  1. Pour balsamic vinegar the over prunes in a small bowl and set them aside to soak.
  2. Warm the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots, season with salt to taste, and sauté for 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent and slightly golden.
  3. Add the mushrooms to the onions and sauté until all their juices evaporate, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chili, thyme, rosemary, and black pepper to taste, and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes.
  4. Increase the heat to medium high. Add the balsamic vinegar from the bowl with the prunes, along with the lemon juice, tomato paste, and tamari; toss to combine. Add the prunes to the pan. Cook a few more minutes, stirring often, until the liquid is almost completely evaporated.
  5. Add the tomatoes to the pan and reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Cover and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust if necessary. Remove the pan from the heat.
  6. While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook it to al dente according to the directions on the package. Drain the pastas, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking water.
  7. Return the pasta to the pot, add the mushroom Bolognese and reserved pasta cooking water, and toss to combine. Divide the pasta among individual bowls and serve immediately, garnished with herbs and grated Parmesan, if using.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Karen Burns
    Karen Burns
  • MelMM
  • laurenbensky
  • Flexitarian

6 Reviews

MelMM October 10, 2021
This is not just the worst Bolognese I've ever made, but quite possibly the worst thing I've ever made, period. The flavors in this recipe are sooo far off from a traditional Bolognese, that I can't see why anyone would call it that. Everything is overwhelmed by the acidity of the balsamic vinegar (I used a good aged one) and the lemon juice. Prunes add some sweetness, but Bolognese isn't supposed to be sweet. Or sour. I'm vegan, so I can assure you the lack of meat was not the problem for me. There are all sorts of great vegan Bolognese recipes out there. I like the one in The Millennium Cookbook, which uses tempeh, and even though that cookbook came out in 1998, the recipe withstands the test of time. The one in Smith & Deli-cious, which uses vegan "beef" crumbles, is also great. There are also decent mushroom-based recipes out there, and I always like to include at least a bit of porcini powder for umami and that meaty taste. But these days, with Impossible and Beyond on the market, you can quite literally just make your grandmother's recipe, or a meat-based cookbook recipe, substituting one of the new plant-based meats.
laurenbensky April 13, 2020
Made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious. I am a vegetarian, so I have never had a (meat) bolognese sauce before, but highly recommend this version for its depth of flavor and richness. Thank you!
Flexitarian March 17, 2020
Could I substitute dates for the prunes? Thanks
liliana October 24, 2018
Unusual and interesting, but I am not convinced.
It lacks prortein.
Adding cubed tofu or chicken thighs?
ACP July 21, 2018
This was fantastic: rich and earthy. My whole family suggested less vinegar though.
Karen B. February 28, 2018
sounds rich and delicious!