This incredibly rich in flavor vegan tofu bolognese sauce is easy to make, filling and super healthy. Also so satisfying it will please even the biggest appetite!
I will always remember the very best bolognese sauce I ate. I mean a real one, with all the meat.
It was back then when my husband and I just got married and first moved from the East Coast to Seattle. We drove south along the Pacific coast of California and were camping wherever we would find a vacant spot. We mostly ended up in simple, but picturesque and memorable areas.
One of these spots was in a large campground that was a bit cramped. I remember being so tired of constantly traveling at that point and starting to feel slightly burnt out from our big adventure.
And we were starving. So we got our space ready for the night and went back out to sit at the counter bar of a local rustic place. I was expecting nothing from this place that frankly seemed to be in the middle of nowhere.
I ordered their bolognese parpadelle and took my first bite. Holy moly broccoli. I was shocked. How could this sauce be sooooo good? How could you get so much flavor in there?
And I have been in love with bolognese since then. But time have changed and I'll go for the meatless version now. Meat is not the only ingredient that makes a pasta sauce so good. It sure brings lots of flavor, but this vegan version is so darn tastylicious.
Why you will love this pasta sauce
- Very easy to make
- A good way to initiate you and your family to tofu
- Perfect for batch cooking: it gets even better after resting in the fridge!
- Freezes very well: make more to always have a batch ready to go.
- Healthy: Not only is this sauce lower in fat compared to the meat version, but also packed with nutritious veggies.
- Freaking finger licking good.
What makes this vegan tofu bolognese so flavorful even without the meat?
This meat-free sauce is lower in fat, but this does not have to mean lower in flavor!
- The traditional bolognese vegetables (onion, carrots and celery) are first cooked in the pot to brown them. This will caramelize their natural sugar and help tremendously in bringing more flavor to the sauce.
- Although not typically part of an authentic bolognese recipe, mushrooms are also used to boost the flavor in this recipe. Their meaty texture and precious umami flavor are essential in making this sauce so so good.
- Using red wine is also key to reach deep flavor. The alcohol quickly evaporates away and what's left is a intense and unique complexion. Use any dry red wine. If you want to skip using wine, then replace with more veggie broth or water.
- Lower heat and longer cooking time. The sauce starts very saucy, so you can cook it for long enough until you reach a thicker texture. This is why I like to keep the cover on for a little while: this helps develop more flavors without having the water evaporate too fast.
Make this tofu bolognese in 3 steps
Everything goes in the same pot in sequences and simmers until the veggies are tender and the sauce is rich and thick.
- First, cook the veggies with spices and lots of garlic.
- Then add the wine, tofu (extra firm is best), tomatoes and maple syrup. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cover and keep cooking for at least 20-30 minutes. The longer the better!
- Uncover and keep simmering until the desired consistency is reached.
How to store
This sauce can be stored in a air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Or, make double batch and freeze the leftovers for up to 3 months.
Other tomato pasta dishes you might like
I hope you like this tofu bolognese as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was.
Vegan Tofu Bolognese - Vegan and packed with veggies
- 1 white onion - diced
- 2 large carrots (about 1 ½ cups) - peeled and diced
- 2 stalk of celery (about 1 cup) - diced
- 8 oz white mushrooms - chopped
- 4-5 large cloves of garlic - crushed
- 2 tsp dried Italian herbs (oregano, basil or a mix)
- ½ cup dry red wine - or more veggie broth/water
- 8 oz extra firm tofu - drained and crumbled
- 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes - fire roasted, if possible
- 28 oz canned diced tomatoes
- 1 ½ cup vegetable broth or water
- ½ cup tomato paste
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- salt and black pepper - to taste
- In a large pot or pan, start by cooking the onion, carrot and celery with a good pinch of salt on medium-high heat until browned and tender, about 7-10 minutes.
- Then, add the mushrooms, garlic and herbs. Stir and cook for about 5 more minutes.
- Add the wine and stir until almost gone. Then, incorporate the rest of the ingredients, cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes on low-medium heat (keep it on a gentle simmer). Stir occasionally.
- Then, remove the cover and keep cooking for about 15 more minutes stirring occasionally. The sauce is ready when thick and saucy. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Serve over the pasta of your choice with a sprinkle of vegan parmesan cheese, if desired.