This might be our favorite recipe so far this year! We were craving bolognese, but were also mindful of the fact that it’s spring, which generally has people cooking lighter, greener fare. So we compromised and came up with a vegetable-packed bolognese that doesn’t depend on canned tomatoes. Instead, we start with fresh cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, zucchini, and tons of basil. Tempeh and mushrooms bring savoriness and meatiness, while some pantry staples help build the deep flavors that you’d generally expect from bolognese. The result is super flavorful and amazing on pasta, but it also feels lighter and more spring-appropriate than your traditional bolognese. We’ll be showing how to make this recipe step-by-step on our Instagram Stories later today, so check that out if you’re interested in trying it :)
If you’re doubtful about including zucchini in bolognese, give it a chance! When roasted, it has a nice, meaty texture that goes perfectly with the mushrooms and tempeh. In addition to that, some of the zucchini gets blended into the sauce, which makes the whole thing super creamy.
This recipe is also great for tempeh skeptics. The tempeh just takes on the flavors of the sauce and aromatics here and contributes a meaty bite, without any other foreign flavors. We’re having a bit of a tempeh obsession right now and it’s so good in this dish. That’s pretty much it! Hope you try this one and thanks so much for all your comments on last week’s giveaway.
- 8 oz tempeh
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ⅓ cup cashews
- ⅓ cup sun dried tomatoes (dry, not oil-packed)
- 10 oz cherry tomatoes - halved
- 2 zucchini - cut in half lengthwise
- 1 red bell pepper - cored and quartered
- 1 lb crimini mushrooms - quartered
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- avocado oil or other roasting oil of choice
- 1 yellow onion - chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic - minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- splash of red wine (optional)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 12 oz pasta or more - for serving
- 1 bunch of basil - chopped, plus more for garnish
- In a bowl, crumble the tempeh and drizzle with the tamari and balsamic, toss to coat. Soak the cashews and sun dried tomatoes in hot water.
- Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C). Prepare 2 parchment paper-covered baking trays. Arrange the tomatoes, zucchini, bell pepper, and mushrooms on the trays. Sprinkle everything with salt and pepper, drizzle with oil, and mix to coat. Place the trays in the oven and roast for 35-45 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft and all the liquid that's been released by the mushrooms cooks off.
- Meanwhile, heat oil to a large pan set over medium heat (if you don't have a large pan, consider using a soup pot here). Add the onion and sauté for 7 minutes, until translucent. Add the marinated tempeh, stir once, and then let sit without stirring for a good 3-4 minutes, so that it thoroughly browns. Stir and sauté for another 3-4 minutes, until completely browned. Stir in the garlic at the end. Add the tomato paste and a splash of wine, if using, and stir to coat.
- Once the vegetables are done roasting, in an upright blender, combine 1 roasted zucchini half, all of the bell pepper, all the tomatoes, about ⅓ of the amount of the mushrooms, the drained cashews and sun dried tomatoes, nutritional yeast, and about 3 cups of water or broth. Blend until smooth, taste for salt and adjust if needed. Cube the remaining roasted zucchini. Add the sauce to the pan with the tempeh, along with the cubed zucchini and remaining mushrooms and bring up to a simmer. Let the sauce reduce for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Once the sauce is done cooking, stir in the basil.
- Serve the bolognese over pasta, garnished with more basil.