Meatless Monday: Smoky Mushroom Bolognese Sauce

    Do you eat meat-free on Mondays? More and more people are joining the international campaign of Meatless Monday to get fit and improve the health of the planet, but sometimes you want more than a salad. At the start of each week, we will offer a hearty and healthy recipe that won’t leave you saying, “where’s the beef”?

    This smoky mushroom bolognese sauce achieves a meaty taste and texture by using three varieties of mushrooms, roasted to achieve a chewy texture, then simmered in a tomato sauce that is spiked with smoked salt. The sauce is rounded out with a tofu puree that provides a good source of protein and achieves a creamy mouthfeel without adding substantial fat. This sauce is perfect over pasta, or you can also cut additional carbs by spooning it over zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.

    Smoky Mushroom Bolognese Sauce

    1 pound portobello mushrooms, cut into ½-inch pieces
    ½ pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
    ¼ pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
    3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    2 teaspoons salt, divided
    4 sprigs thyme, divided
    3 sprigs rosemary, divided
    1 lemon, zested
    1 onion, diced small
    2 carrots, peeled and diced small
    2 stalks celery, diced small
    1 cup white wine
    1½ cups vegetable stock, divided
    1, 28-ounce cans of diced tomatoes
    1, 8-ounce can tomato sauce
    ½ teaspoon hickory smoked salt
    2 teaspoons black pepper
    Pinch chili pepper flakes
    1 block firm tofu, cut into 2-inch chunks
    ¼ cup minced parsley
    2 pounds fresh or dried pappardelle or fettuccine pasta
    2 tablespoons basil, minced or cut into chiffonade
    ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

    Preheat an oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Place all mushrooms pieces on a sheet pan then toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 sprigs of rosemary, and lemon zest. Bake for 25 minutes, tossing halfway through the cooking time.


    Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauce pot, set over medium heat. Add the diced onions, carrots, celery, and 1 teaspoon of salt then sweat for about 10 minutes or until tender. Pour in the white wine and reduce the liquid until the pan is almost dry.

    Remove the sheet pan from the oven and discard the herbs. Transfer the mushrooms to a cutting board and roughly chop them into ¼-inch pieces. Add the mushrooms to the pot. Pour 1 cup of vegetable stock on the sheet pan and scrape to deglaze, then add that liquid to the pot.

    Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce into the pot, stir, then place the remaining whole thyme and rosemary sprigs into the sauce. Simmer the sauce over medium heat for 30 minutes then season with hickory smoked salt, black pepper, and chili flakes.

    Place remaining ½ cup of vegetable stock in a blender with the firm tofu and puree until completely smooth. Pour this creamy puree into the sauce and stir to incorporate. Continue simmering the sauce for another 10 to 15 minutes then finish with minced parsley.

    Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, then place back into the pot. Add 1 to 2 cups of the sauce and toss to combine. Serve and garnish with basil and toasted pine nuts.

    Kerry Stanton
    Kerry Stanton is a recipe writer, culinary instructor, and restaurant consultant. She writes for Dirty Water Media and the Boston Herald.“I will not settle for anything less than exceptional food at every meal. This doesn’t mean that I demand excessive extravagance or prized ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner - I just want well-cooked, properly seasoned food, presented beautifully. I think we all deserve this much.”




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