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Vegan Bolognese Pasta

Vegan Bolognese Pasta

Vegan Bolognese pasta sauce is a rich, hearty, and vegetable-packed dinner with rigatoni noodles that’s perfect for Meatless Monday or any night of the week! Dried herbs, garlic, tomato, and vegan meatballs make this easy stove-top dinner a winner. 

Meatless Bolognese Pasta

Is there anything more satisfying than sitting down to a piping hot bowl of pasta bolognese? While traditional bolognese sauce relies on multiple kinds of ground meat and plenty of heavy cream, my version is much lighter and every bit as satisfying and delicious. 

This meatless bolognese recipe has a rich and complex flavor that you might even call meaty. That’s thanks to plenty of umami from tomato paste, fresh vegetables, dried herbs, and vegan meatballs. I promise that even the biggest beef fan won’t miss the meat in this vegan bolognese sauce. 

Meatless Bolognese Pasta

How to Make Vegan Bolognese Pasta

This pasta sauce actually comes together in just one pot, so it’s a perfect low-stress meal to make on a weeknight. However, it has all of the deep, rich flavors of long-simmered Sunday sauce. 

Ingredients

Here are the ingredients you need for vegetarian bolognese pasta:

  • Rigatoni. Use your favorite shape of pasta. You can also substitute gluten-free if necessary. 
  • Red bell pepper. This adds natural sweetness to the bolognese sauce. 
  • Red onion. Substitute with yellow or white if that’s what you have.
  • Garlic. You can never have too much! I recommend using 6 cloves to infuse this vegan bolognese sauce with flavor.
  • Olive oil. I prefer the organic oil from Primal Kitchen.
  • Red pepper flakes. For a bit of heat that doesn’t overwhelm.
  • Dried oregano, basil, thyme, and parsley. These dried herbs add to the savory Italian flavor of this sauce.
  • Red curry paste. This is my secret flavor-enhancer, but it’s totally optional. If you do use it, be sure to check that your curry paste is vegan-friendly, as some contain fish.
  • White wine. Choose dry wine for the best flavor. This adds a bit of acidity to the bolognese sauce.
  • Vegetable stock. I use low-sodium stock from Pacific Foods.
  • Vegan meatballs. You can use store-bought or make your own. I recommend my recipe for Chickpea and Quinoa meatballs.

Meatless Bolognese Pasta

Instructions

To make this pasta sauce, follow these recipe instructions:

  1. First, cook the pasta according to the directions on the packaging (about 8-10 minutes) and drain. Reserve 2-3 Tbsps of pasta water for the sauce. NOTE: You can also cook your pasta while your sauce simmers later on if preferred!
  2. In a pot on medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and sauté minced garlic, bell peppers, and onions until translucent and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the dried seasonings and herbs and stir until well combined. Add the tomato paste, red curry paste (optional), cooking wine, and veggie stock and stir until well combined and color has changed to a red color.
  3. Let the sauce simmer for 2-3 minutes before reducing heat to low and simmering.
  4. Add the vegan meatballs (if using frozen) and stir until well coated. NOTE: If making homemade meatballs, you would need to first sear your meatballs until golden brown before doing this step.
  5. Simmer the sauce for 30 minutes or until meatballs are tender and fully cooked through.
  6. Using a handheld immersion blender, blend the meatballs into the sauce until finely minced (leaving a few chunks is OK). Stir everything together again, season to taste, and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
  7. Add drained cooked pasta to the cooked sauce and gently stir until everything is well incorporated and pasta is coated.
  8. To serve, add pasta and sauce to the prepared dish(es) and top with freshly grated parmesan. You can serve this with your favorite salad or garlic bread.

Meatless Bolognese Pasta

Storage Suggestions

Store leftover vegan bolognese pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. 

You can freeze the post without the pasta in an airtight container for up to 4 months. To use, defrost on the counter or in the fridge overnight and reheat on the stove. 

For make-ahead vegan bolognese pasta:

  • Cook the pasta, let it cool, and store it in an air-tight refrigerator for 3-5 days. You can also cook the meatballs, mince them and store them in another airtight container for the same amount of time.
  • Follow the steps to cook tomato sauce and after STEP 5, remove the sauce from heat, let cool completely and store in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, remove everything from the fridge, warm the sauce and pasta together in a large pot until warmed through, and serve.

Meatless Bolognese Pasta

How to Serve Bologense 

I like to sprinkle my piping hot bowl of vegan rigatoni bolognese with grated parmesan cheese. You can also top it with a sprinkling of red pepper flakes for a bit more heat. On the side, a slice of crusty bread dipped in olive oil is always a welcome addition. 

 

Meatless Bolognese Pasta

Gluten-Free Vegan Bolognese Pasta

To make this recipe gluten-free, simply use your favorite gluten-free pasta.

Meatless Bolognese Pasta

More Meatless Pasta Recipes

Looking to cut back on your meat consumption without sacrificing flavor or satiety? You’ll love these other comforting vegetarian and vegan pasta recipes:

Meatless Bolognese Pasta

Meatless Bolognese Pasta

Meatless Bolognese Pasta

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Serves: 6 servings
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Ingredients

  • 1 (16 oz.) package rigatoni pasta (You can use your fave pasta!)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (I use Primal Kitchen)
  • sea salt + black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp red curry paste, optional
  • 1/3 cup white cooking wine
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (I use Pacific Foods)
  • 1 (12 oz.) bag vegan meatballs (For homemade, See Notes!)
  • 1/2 cup vegan mozzarella 'cheese' shreds (You can use parmesan for non-vegan option!)

Instructions

  • Begin by cooking pasta according to the directions of the packaging (about 8-10 minutes) and drain (leaving aside 2-3 Tbsps of pasta water for later). NOTE: You can also cook your pasta while your sauce simmers later on, if preferred!
  • In a pot on medium-high heat, add oil (1 Tbsp) and sauté minced garlic, bell peppers, + onions until translucent + fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add seasonings and herbs and stir continue until well combined. Add the tomato paste, red curry paste (optional), cooking wine, and veggie stock and stir until well combined and color has changed to a red color.
  • Let sauce bubble for 2-3 minutes before reducing heat to low and simmering.
  • Add in vegan meatballs (if using frozen) and stir until well coated. NOTE: If making homemade meatballs, you would need to first sear your meatballs until golden brown before doing this step.
  • Let simmer for 30 minutes or until meatballs are tender and fully cooked through.
  • Using a handheld immersion blender, blend meatball into sauce until finely minced (leaving a few chunks is OK). Stir everything together again, season to taste and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Add drained cooked pasta to cooked sauce and gently stir until everything is well incorporated and pasta is coated.
  • To serve, add pasta and sauce to prepared dish(es) and top with freshly grated parmesan. You can serve this with your favorite salad or garlic bread.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Any leftovers can be kept in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
  • MAKE AHEAD: Cook your pasta and let it cool completely before storing in an air-tight refrigerator for 3-5 days. You can also cook your meatballs and mince them and store them in another airtight container. Follow steps to cook tomato sauce and after STEP 5, remove sauce from heat, let cool completely and store in the fridge the day before. On the day of, remove everything from the fridge, warm sauce and pasta together in a large pot until warmed through, and serve.
  • GLUTEN-FREE: To make this dish GF, simply substitute pasta with GF pasta.
  • HOMEMADE VEGAN MEATBALLS: For our staple vegan meatballs, try this VEGAN CHICKPEA + QUINOA ‘MEATBALLS’ recipe.

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