I have been meat free since my early teens and have never really missed meat in any shape or form in the years that have passed since.
However I have always had very, very fond memory of my mum's bolognese, the sort of dish that evokes childhood memories and a sense of nostalgia that is hard to replicate when you have sworn off mince for good.
I was therefore instantly intrigued by the sound of this vegetarian friendly bolognese, which uses pulsed Shitaki mushrooms and cauliflower plus plenty of spices and herbs to create an incredibly mince like texture which also delivers the warmth and depth of a bolognese with not a fake meat product in sight.
I truly wasn't sure what to expect here but the end result was pretty impressive, I really felt like I was having a bolognese, just a lot lighter and without any animals harmed and can't wait to make this for a crowd - I reckon even the biggest carnivores I know would struggle to not love this dish.
A total game changer of a recipe that let's me recreate one of my most treasured childhood and that should be part of everyone's cooking repertoire, trust me!
- 300g shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
- 1 medium head of cauliflower ), broken into florets
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil,
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 red chilli, finely sliced
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
- ⅓ cup tomato puree
- 450g ricatoni
- 1 cup parmesan, grated
- 3 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
- ½ lemon
- Pulse mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped.
- Transfer to a small bowl.
- Wipe out food processor bowl.
- Working in 3 batches, pulse cauliflower in food processor until pieces are about the size of a grain of rice (some smaller and some larger ones are fine), transferring to a medium bowl as you go.
- Heat ¼ cup oil and 2 Tbsp. butter in a large frying pan.
- Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 4–6 minutes.
- Add onion and 2 Tbsp. oil to pot.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft and golden brown, 6–8 minutes.
- Add garlic, chilli, and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened and mixture is very fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Add tomato puree and cook, stirring constantly, until paste is slightly darkened, about 2 minutes.
- Add cauliflower and cook, yes, still stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is cooked down slightly and begins to stick to bottom of pot, 6–8 minutes.
- Season with salt, then keep warm over low heat.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until almost al dente, about 1 minute less than package directions.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer pasta to pot with sauce.
- Add 1 cup Parmesan, remaining 2 Tbsp. butter, and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
- Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente and sauce is clinging to pasta, about 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in parsley.
- Taste and adjust seasoning with salt.
- Finely zest lemon over pasta and toss once more.
- Divide pasta among bowls AND ENJOY!