Everyone has a death row meal. I know that sounds grim, talking about what I would want to eat if I did something terrible and was put to death, but I have a feeling we all have that one meal we’d request. Bolognese is mine. There’s nothing better to eat on a chilly fall day. It has the ability to send comfort all throughout your bones and soul and make the entire day wash away. I call it a hug in a bowl.
I don’t eat traditional, meaty bolognese very often, mostly because the combination of heavy meat and pasta isn’t something I feel good about eating all the time. There are many times, especially at night, when I’m craving something a bit lighter. Enter: the veggie version of my favorite comfort food. The mushrooms, carrots and red bell pepper in this bolognese replace the meat. Of course, it isn’t nearly as rich since, well, we’re missing all the fat from the meat, but for me that’s welcomed!
Another plus about this recipe: it saves in the fridge like a champ. It’s the perfect meal to make on a Sunday and then just heat up and pour over freshly boiled pasta. I had a bowl the other day and remembered why it’s one of my favorite dishes to make when I’m craving that in between feeling of full and nourished yet still light.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 7 to 8 cremini mushrooms, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and grated using a box grater
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried majoram
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1 (15-ounce) can of diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan-Reggiano, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 pound of dried pasta
- Italian parsley, for garnish
- To a large pot, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the shallot. Cook until the shallots turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, mushrooms, carrots, red bell pepper and spices: marjoram, oregano, fresh thyme, salt and crushed red pepper.
- Next, pour in the can of tomatoes. (If you’re using a can of cherry tomatoes, take the back of your spoon and crush them.) Add 1/2 cup (you can eyeball this measurement) of water to the empty tomato can, swishing it around so you get all of the remnants of tomato juice; pour the tomato water into the pot and stir. Bring the tomato sauce to a slight simmer and then turn the heat down to low. Cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. At the 20 minute mark, stir in the tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, Parmesan-Reggiano and a splash or two of water, if it’s cooked down a bit too much. Cover the pot once more and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the sauce is fragrant and has thickened slightly. (If at any time the sauce becomes too thick, you can simply add a bit more tomato paste and a 1/4 cup of water or veggie stock.) Right before tossing with the pasta, add the butter and mix until melted.
- Meanwhile, boil some salted water and cook the pasta per the box’s instructions. (Mine told me 10 minutes exactly.) Toss the pasta with a few tablespoons of sauce and serve with a few spoonfuls of bolognese on top. Garnish with more Parmesan-Reggiano and a sprinkle of Italian parsley.
Yield: 4 servings
Adrianna Adarme is a food blogger and author living in Los Angeles, California. She writes the blog A Cozy Kitchen, where she shares comforting, everyday recipes from her kitchen. She recently authored her first cookbook, PANCAKES: 72 Sweet and Savory Recipes for the Perfect Stack. She’s a lover of breakfast, pie (and sometimes even pie for breakfast), corgis and cute things. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.