Hearty Mushroom & Beet Bolognese

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 17 votes

Mushroom and beet bolognese is a hearty, delicious, and comforting vegan dinner recipe that will satisfy anyone at the table. Slight creaminess from cashew cream fill the sauce out while mushrooms and lentils make the bolognese base slightly meaty.

A head on shot of a bowl of meaty, deep red vegan bolognese pasta.
An overhead shot of a deep red mushroom and beet bolognese pasta in two wide serving bowls.
A pair of tongs is shown lifting a deep red bolognese pasta from the pot.
An overhead shot of some fresh beets with greens attached.
Two images show mushrooms being finely chopped in a food processor.
An overhead shot of raw ingredients needed for a vegan bolognese on a platter.
Two images show an open can of tomatoes and dry pasta.

Not playing around. This mushroom and beet bolognese is one of the best things I’ve ever made. The ingredients are simple enough, but we take our time cooking all of the different layers for maximum flavour and depth. Again, this is another mushroom recipe that somehow gets away with not tasting too mushroom-y thanks to all the garlic, fragrant bay leaf, the acidity of the red wine, smoky-earthy beets, plus the tomato paste and miso umami bombs. I’m really, really into this one.

For a faster, still super meaty and satisfying version, check out my 30-Minute Easy Lentil Bolognese.

I am having a bit of a beet moment lately and I know some of you will think that they’re kind of a “Whaaaa?!” addition to this recipe. I promise that they’re good! They’re slightly smoky and earthy and they add a nice touch of colour, too. The beets also contribute to that typical squidgy bolognese texture, too. I’m always roasting beets as part of our weekly food prep, but if you’re strapped for time, the pre-cooked Love Beets are an amazing save. Also, if you need another great recipe with beets, look no further than this salad, this beet and blood orange smoothie or this avocado tartare with roasted beets.

This recipe conveniently makes an excellent date night meal, but I think it’s perfect just for your own fine self or even for your whole family. It has a cozy, comforting, and crowd-pleasing vibe for sure. Just perfectly hearty and wholesome winter food that happens to be vegan and entirely whole food-based :)

One day I’ll cool it with all the carb-heavy vegan comfort food over here, but right now I just can’t get enough. Because this recipe is quite dependent on longer stretches of cooking time, I wouldn’t call it quick and easy. It’s more of a weekend cooking kind of endeavour. It’s nice to get all of the ingredients prepped and measured and just kind of linger over the stove with a glass of wine or whatever beverage you’re into. Hope you give it a try and I hope that you’re having a lovely week <3

Two images show a finely chopped mushroom mixture being cooked down in a pot.
Image shows a bright white creamy liquid being added to a pot with a thick red sauce.
Image shows a hand holding a spatula stirring a vegan bolognese sauce.
An overhead shot of a deep red, meaty vegan bolognese pasta in a pot.
An overhead shot of a bowl of vegan bolognese pasta.

Vegan Mushroom & Beet Bolognese

Mushroom and beet bolognese is a hearty, crowd-pleasing, and delicious vegan main course. Perfect Winter supper that will satisfy vegans and meat-eaters alike!
5 from 17 votes
MUSHROOM & BEET BOLOGNESE - The First Mess
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • cup French lentils, rinsed
  • ¼ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
  • ¾ cup filtered water
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms, stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, small dice
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 medium roasted beets, small dice
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon light miso (I used chickpea miso)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes (I always prefer the fire-roasted ones by Muir Glen)
  • ½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 lb long and wide pasta noodles of choice, such as tagliatelle or pappardelle

Equipment

Notes

  • If you have fresh thyme on hand, a couple sprigs-worth of leaves (minced up) would be great here. Just add it to the pot with the garlic.
  • A little splash of tamari soy sauce is great at the end of the cooking process, but not necessary. It just enhances all of those savoury flavours. Add a teaspoon along with the cashew cream if you like.
  • If you have liquid smoke on hand, 3 little drops are great in this.
  • To roast beets, place them in an oven safe baking dish. Pour water up to a ⅓ of the height of the beets. Cover the dish with foil and roast for about 45 minutes, or until beets are tender when pierced with a knife. Peel and refrigerate beets, storing them in a sealed container.

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, cover the lentils with water and place the pot over medium-high heat. Bring the lentils to a boil and then simmer until just-tender, about 20 minutes. They will continue to cook in the bolognese later on. Drain the lentils and set aside.
  • In an upright blender, combine the cashews and water. Blend on high until you have a totally liquified cashew milk. Set the milk aside.
  • You’ll need to finely chop the mushrooms, and a food processor is the easiest way to do it. Cut the mushroom caps into quarters and place half of them in the food processor. Pulse the food processor about 8-10 times or until mushrooms are finely minced. Transfer minced mushrooms to a large bowl and repeat pulsing process with remaining mushrooms. You can also mince them by hand if you prefer.
  • Heat a large, heavy pot (like a dutch oven) over medium heat. Pour the oil into the pot once it’s warmed up. Add the onions to the pot and cook, stirring often, until softened and translucent on the edges, about 5 minutes. Then, add the chili flakes, garlic, bay leaf, and beets. Cook this mixture for 8 minutes. The beets should keep the pot sufficiently moist without the need to add water/more oil.
  • Add all of the mushrooms to the pot and stir to combine all of the vegetables. Leave the vegetables alone for one minute. Then, stir the vegetables again. Let them sit for another minute. After this, the mushrooms should be letting off liquid. Add the cooked lentils, miso, and tomato paste to the pot. Season everything generously with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  • Keep cooking the vegetables until there’s only a small amount of liquid weeping out and everything is quite brown and reduced, about 10-12 minutes. Continue stirring the mixture throughout the cooking process.
  • Add the red wine to the pot and stir. Let the mixture simmer and cook out for 5 minutes, stirring often. There should still be a good slick of liquid in the pot at the end of the 5 minutes.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes to the pot and stir to combine. Let the mixture simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring often. At this point the bolognese should be like a very thick stew. Add the cashew milk to the pot and stir. Bring the bolognese to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Check the bolognese for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Keep it warm while you cook the pasta.
  • Cook the pasta according to package directions minus 1-2 minutes. You want to finish cooking the pasta in the bolognese. Once pasta is sufficiently cooked, drain and add it to the pot with the bolognese. Add the chopped parsley as well. Gently fold the pasta and bolognese to combine and heat throughout. Serve mushroom and beet bolognese immediately.
06/02/2019 (Last Updated 22/02/2023)
Posted in: autumn, cashews, earthy, gluten free option, lentils, main course, mushrooms, pasta, refined sugar-free, salty, sauce, spring, summer, tomatoes, umami, vegan, winter

89 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Sarah Falardeau

    5 stars
    Une recette complètement delicieuse! I replace the red wine with white (it was already open), I will do this again.

  • Lauren Gray

    I cannot have red wine. Is there a good substitute? Thank you.

    • Laura Wright

      I would use vegetable stock and add a splash of red wine vinegar/balsamic vinegar at the end of the simmering time for that touch of acidity.
      -L

  • Kim H

    5 stars
    Hi Laura,

    I just made this today to serve tomorrow night. The sauce is very tasty but extremely thick (no liquid, like a thick chili). Will adding the cooked pasta along with whatever pasta water is clinging be adequate? Do you think I need to add some liquid when reheating the sauce?

    Thanks for your help! And the recipe :)
    Kim

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Kim!
      Sorry for the delay in response. Adding some of the pasta cooking water is the best and easiest way to gradually thin the sauce out to your liking.
      -L

  • JD

    5 stars
    This is very delicious! I’m not used to cooking with beets and I used what I thought was 1 medium beet and 2 small beets and had almost 2 cups of diced beets! I didn’t read your comment that it should be around 3/4 cups of beets so mine definitely came out pretty beety! Still delicious though but I can’t wait to make it with the appropriate amount of beets.

  • Juanita

    Wowza!  That was delisioso!! Made exactly as written, including the tsp. of tamari with the cashew cream.  Used pappardelle pasta for this recipe.  
    I really appreciate the detailed step-by-step instructions included in your recipes; what to look for, the precise times, the size of the dice, etc. Helps immensely in insuring that I am making the recipes as you have made them and increases the likelihood that they have turned out the way that you have intended them.
    While I was a little uncertain about the beets in the recipe, they really worked. They added texture, sweetness and earthiness to the bolognese but it didn’t jump out at you as, “hey, that’s beets I’m eating!”
    Although there were several steps to this recipe, really worth the effort.  Just ensure that you have allowed adequate time to prepare. Seems like a “special occasion” recipe to me but absolutely well worth the effort. 

  • Jen

    This is THE best vegan bolognese I have ever made – everything comes together very well. Did create a lot of dishes but that’s to be expected with a dish like this.

  • Jackie

    Hi Laura.. can the sauce be frozen? 

    • Laura

      Hi Jackie,
      I have not frozen this one myself, but I’m fairly confident that it would be okay texture and flavour-wise after freezing.
      -L

  • Lolo

    making this tomorrow night! what red wine would you recommend using for the sauce? and drinking alongside it? :)

    • Laura

      Hi Lolo,
      sorry for my delayed response. Honestly any red wine that you enjoy drinking is ideal to cook with!
      -L

  • Maria

    5 stars
    So glad I finally made this :) So very good

  • Anita

    5 stars
    I made this last night. It was sooo delicious, and full of flavour. As other people suggested in the comments, I didn’t roast the beets as I didn’t have time. I simply grated one beet and one carrot and otherwise followed the recipe as is. My sauce didn’t turn out pink, it was bright reddish orange. I did cook the vegetable/miso/tomato paste mixture for the full 15 minutes to make sure it was nice and dark brown before adding the wine and canned tomatoes. Delicious recipe and I will for sure use the leftovers to make lasagna!

  • Renee

    This was fantastic. Like, beyond my wildest dreams of what a decadent vegan pasta dish should be. A time-saving tip: I didn’t realize the beets needed to be roasted and I didn’t have time, so I shredded them on a box grater and added them raw and it still turned out delicious.

  • Courtnie

    Hi there! Plan to make this recipe tomorrow night and just realized I have black caviar lentils. Do you think I can sub these for the French lentils?

    • Laura

      Black caviar lentils would work great in this recipe!
      -L