Pasta Bolognese has some nostalgic value for me. When I was in highschool, if I wanted to take my girlfriend out to dinner, it was spaghetti bolognese at a Rotterdam institution, a student café/restaurant, De Pijp (the Pipe). A small restaurant on a side street, that was for students, and you always needed to be introduced by one of the members, the general public was not welcome. It still exists today, and it claims to be the oldest restaurant in Rotterdam.
So when Dr. Anna Borek (@ScepticalDoctor on Twitter), posted this recipe, I had to make it... and of course you can vary this endlessly, but the core concepts are simple and powerful.
The recipe has been tested by a neighbor and myself, as well as by Fr. David at St. Helena's and Rosemarie Ortiz, the church secretary. Everybody liked it!
Tofu Bolognese Sauce
from Anna Borek, The Sceptical Doctor
2 blocks of firm tofu
1 cup of cut-up celery stalks
1 cup of cut-up red onions
1/2 cup of water
3 cloves of garlic (or more, depending on your religion)
1 cup of cut-up carrots
2 cups of sliced mushrooms
a pinch of salt (or, alternatively use water with 1 tsp yondu)
2x 15 Oz or 1 25 Oz can of tomatoes
2 heaped tbsp of tomato paste.
1 cup of wine
2.5 cups of cooked red lentils (1 cup dry)
1 bunch chopped spinach
3 tbsp of Italian seasoning
1 cup of water
vegan parmesan to taste
- cut up the tofu into small cubes, and bake until evenly browned.
- Precook the lentils - 3 mins of high pressure in the Instant Pot will do.
- stir fry the celery and red onions in water in the sauce pan
- add the garlic, diced carrots and cut-up mushrooms and lest it simmer for 10 minutes
- add tomatoes, tomato paste and wine, as well as lentils, spinach and italian seasoning, as well as the baked tofu
- simmer for 1-2 hours
for good measure, I am adding a recipe for vegan parmesan.
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
In the blender until it is a fine powder.
I happily made the sauce with 1 bloc of Tofu and 4 cups of mushrooms (I used Baby Bella), because that is what I had around. I also threw in towards the end a box of grape tomatoes, careful not to cook them to the point of bursting. They enhance the fresh tomato taste. Or, you can use an extra package of diced or crushed tomatoes to enhance the tomato flavor and make the sauce a little thinner. Lastly you should always add a few scoops of the cooking water from your pasta to the sauce.
Note that in many pasta sauces, sugar is used to dampen the acidity, but in this sauce it is really the sweetness from the carrots which blends away the acidity, with an assist from the neutralizing flavor of the lentils.