Spaghetti Bolognese hardly needs an introduction. But this particular Spaghetti Bolognese might. I’ve been making vegan Bolognese in a similar way for years and years, never having bothered writing down a recipe before. Sometimes, it turned out amazing, and other times, not so much so. This version is the best version of vegan spaghetti Bolognese I have ever made. It’s hearty and relatively thick, the tofu is crunchy, and it’s just so… scrumptious. We can’t get enough of it.
One thing I always dreaded when making recipes with tofu is frying the tofu. I found that it took ages to get the tofu to be crunchy enough, and I had to use more oil than I would have liked. This process is no longer necessary with my baked tofu. I only recently discovered that baking tofu is a great way to get it to firm up and soak up spices. You just crumble it, mix it with your desired spices and some olive oil, and pop it into the oven for half an hour. It’s so good, I could just eat it straight from the oven. And in the meantime, you have time to prepare the rest of the ingredients. Convenient, right? I don’t think I’ll ever go back to frying tofu.
A note on different tomato sources and salt
As to the sauce, in the past, I’ve either used passata or diced or whole canned tomatoes when I made spaghetti bolognese. I find that while using canned tomatoes certainly works, it’s not ideal, because canned tomatoes are less intense in their taste than passata. Using too much passata makes the sauce a little too heavy for my taste, though (but tastes vary, obviously – my boyfriend loves his bolognese with a little more passata). So I mix passata with vegetable broth and cooking water from the pasta.
The tomato sauce can be prepared in 15 minutes, although the taste does get better if you have a little more time. But honestly, I usually don’t cook it any longer, as it tastes so good anyway. A note on salt: As always, you might have to adjust the amount of salt to your preferences. I prefer it with a little more salt, even though the sauce itself tastes a bit too salty then. In the past, I’ve used less salt for tomato sauce, and it always tasted great in the pot, but a tad dull mixed with the pasta. So don’t worry if the sauce tastes quite salty before mixing it with the spaghetti.
Anyway, here it is – my recipe for the best vegan spaghetti Bolognese. If you try this recipe, let me know in the comments what you think! I’d love to hear from you.
makes 3-4 servings
for the baked tofu:
- 2 blocks (400 g) tofu
- 2.5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- freshly ground pepper
for the rest:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup passata
- 1-2 teaspoons salt (start with 1 and taste towards the end)
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1.5 tablespoons oregano
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon raw cane sugar
- 1/4 cup cooking water from the pasta
- pasta of your choice
- Pre-heat the oven to 180° C. Crumble the tofu into small pieces in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients for the tofu and mix well. Spread the tofu on a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
- Heat the olive oil in a pot on low to medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté for a few minutes, until translucent..
- Add the minced garlic along with the tomato paste and spices. Mix well and sauté for around 30 seconds.
- Add the red wine and let it simmer for a minute or two before adding the tofu (if it’s done by now – if not, don’t worry, just add it later).
- Add the vegetable broth, passata, soy sauce, and sugar.
- Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to package directions. I like to use whole wheat spaghetti. When the pasta is almost done, take 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and add it to your sauce.
- The sauce should be simmering for at least 15 minutes. Generally, the longer you simmer it, the better. You might have to add more passata and/or water, though, if you cook it for a longer time.
- Serve sprinkled with nutritional yeast. Trust me on this – it’s one of the most important ingredients and we can’t imagine eating pasta dishes without it anymore.