This is a wonderful dish I have started making for my family to substitute a hearty and delicious beef sauce. We want to eat less meat, and more veggies, so if you are in the same boat- you will LOVE this dish! This pasta is made with a delicious and hearty vegan tomato sauce full of flavorful mushrooms marinated in garlic, shallots, and balsamic vinegar. This hearty sauce looks like it has actual beef, but it is much more flavorful and heart healthy!
My kids never choose to eat mushrooms, but they asked for seconds with this meal AND thought it was actually beef in there. I broke it to them, and they were at first shocked, but then happy to learn that they got their mushroom superpowers and enjoyed it! I love to tell my children about all the super powers vegetables and fruits give us. Mushrooms are rich in B vitamins and antioxidants such as selenium. These help our bodies fight all kinds of diseases, make our blood cells stronger, and provide us with energy. Mushrooms are also found to improve hearth and brain health, preventing various forms of neurological illnesses as we age. Mushrooms are also the only plant source for vitamin D, so if you follow a vegan or mostly plant-based life-style, mushrooms are very important! Mushrooms are also free of fat or cholesterol so they make for a wise and delicious substitute for meat.
The Flavor Agents
The texture of chopped mushrooms make them perfect to emulate that of meaty dishes. I use a combination of portabella caps and baby bellas, also known as cremini mushrooms. I simply pulse these in my food processor so that they are finely chopped to the consistency of coarse ground beef. If I have them available, I also love including dried mushrooms (such as these) because they often have a strong flavor that gives that unexpected umami that meat can have.
In a hot pan, I sauté the mushrooms in olive oil, salt and pepper until they become golden and all liquid has evaporated (the mushrooms release a bit of water while cooking). I then add some minced garlic, shallots, carrots and sauté them all together before adding the balsamic vinegar. This all simmers together to create an exceptionally tasty mushroom sauce!
Lastly, I add my homemade marinara sauce (any marinara sauce is fine), and allow this all to simmer for about 10 more minutes, for all flavors to combine.
This sauce is perfect for papparadelle pasta, penne, rotini, or whatver is your favorite!
For our busy weeknights, I opt to make this as a one pot meal. I add 1.5 cups of water to the sauce and throw in a pound of pasta to simmer right in the sauce! It really cannot get any easier, and all the flavors combine quite well this way. I have started using lentil pasta as it provides a nutrient dense source of protein. It also only takes about 6 minutes for the lentil pasta to cook al dente in this sauce.
Enjoy, from my kitchen to yours!
Mushroom Bolognese Pasta
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb mushrooms (portabellas), diced
- 1/2 c dried mushrooms, diced (optional)
- 1 shallot, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 carrot, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced (optional)
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1-2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2.5 cups marinara sauce
- In a large pot with a wide base, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the fresh mushrooms first, followed by the dried ones, if using.
- Once the mushrooms have caramelized and the water has evaporated, add the shallots, garlic, carrots, and bell pepper. Mix over the heat for 2 minutes.
- Add the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and taste to see if you want more salt.
- Add the marinara sauce and simmer for ten minutes before serving over your favorite pasta noodles.
- For the one pot meal variation, add 1.5 cups of water to the marinara sauce and bring to a boil. Add an extra tablespoon of olive oil and one pound of pasta and allow to simmer for 6-8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes so that the pasta doesn't stick.