I recently realized that whenever I go traveling, I consume very little vegetables. I try to order as many greens as I can but it still doesn't amount to how much produce I eat at home. The moment I come back home, heck even on the plane ride home, I'm thinking about one thing, "what should I eat when I come back?". It's been almost a month since I've been back home and I am still making half of my meals vegetarian; I must eat as many vegetables as possible! To make vegetables more enticing to my husband, I throw them in a sauce, roast them until charred, or prepare them in a special way like in this roasted vegetable bolognese. I kid you not, my husband said that you couldn't even tell there was no meat in this pasta. Flavorful and healthy? Sign me up.
Roasted Vegetable Bolognese
- 1 onion quartered, peel on
- 2 carrots
- 1 head of garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms
- 8 ounces button mushrooms
- 2 portobello mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup red wine
- 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 12 ounces pasta
- ½ cup pasta water
- ½ cup grated parmesan plus more for servings
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Toss quartered onion, carrots, and garlic in olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil and place vegetables on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes or until softened. Remove from the oven and remove onion peel. Squeeze garlic from the skins and pulse vegetables in the food processor until finely chopped. Remove and set aside.
- Roughly chop mushrooms into small chunks either by hand or with a food processor. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until browned, about 7-8 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir to coat the mushrooms. Cook for 1 minute or until tomato paste has caramelized.
- Add red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any tomato paste that might be stuck. Add canned tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and roasted vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the water.
- Add pasta to vegetable ragu along with the reserved ½ cup pasta water and ½ cup grated parmesan. Stir until cheese has melted and sauce is thick and creamy. Season once more with salt and pepper.
- Portion the pasta into 4 bowls and top with extra grated parmesan. Serve immediately.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
I love a traditional bolognese sauce. The slowly simmered meat with tomatoes and wine is something I can never resist. But let's be real, I just don't have the time to cook a sauce on the stovetop for hours on end. That's where this roasted vegetable bolognese enters the picture. The sauce is ready in half the time and still delivers on every note including flavor.
The main vegetable in the sauce is mushrooms. To mimic ground beef, pulse the mushrooms until finely chopped. You can also chop the mushrooms by hand but I'm all about speed. Just make sure to not puree the mushrooms into a paste when using the food processor.
Meanwhile, roast the carrots, onions, and garlic. This is where more flavor comes in. The charred flavor will come through in the sauce and give it that umami punch. Plus, who doesn't love a whole head of roasted garlic in pasta sauce?
Saute the mushrooms until they are caramelized and add the tomato paste, stirring well to coat the mushrooms. Don't worry if the paste gets stuck to the bottom of the pot. We're going to deglaze with red wine and scrape up all that goodness right back into the sauce.
Finely chop the roasted veggies and back them into the pot along with canned tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. If tomatoes are in season, use fresh instead.
Now instead of simmering the sauce for hours as you would for bolognese, we're just going to let this cook for about 30 minutes.
Toss cooked pasta with the sauce, reserved pasta water, and parmesan, cooking the sauce until it becomes nice and creamy. You can use any shaped noodles but I chose penne so that the sauce can get stuck in all the nooks and crannies. Finish the pasta with more parmesan and dig in.
I loved this roasted vegetable bolognese so much that I saved the extra sauce and served it with crusty bread as an afternoon snack. I will always love my meat bolognese but will gladly eat this vegetarian version any day of the week!
For more pasta inspiration check out this pasta with eggplant ragu!