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.
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.
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
Vegan Mushroom & Beet Bolognese
- ⅓ 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
- 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.
- 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.