This vegan TVP bolognese sauce is easy and so full of flavor. The chewiness for the TVP makes this recipe very meaty and will leave you feel full and satisfied. Also filled with vegetables, high-in-protein, healthy and 100% plant-based.
I do love quick and easy red pasta sauces like this vegan tofu bolognese sauce, but whenever I have a little extra time, I'll definitely go for this TVP bolognese sauce. I like to make a larger batch of this recipe so I can freeze some and eat amazing ragù style pasta during the week. We never get tired of it!
The flavor of the sauce is SO amazing and really feels like an authentic Italian pasta sauce. On top of TVP, it includes canned tomatoes, dried herbs, veggies, garlic and some red wine for more depth in flavor. Plus, I like to finish up with a little plant-based milk and nutritional yeast, which gives it a creamier texture with added umami and cheesy flavor, just like the classic bolognese recipe.
It does take a little more time to prepare compared to a quick marinara sauce, but cooking the sauce slowly intensifies the flavors and turns the tomato based sauce a little less acidic and mellower. It is mostly hands-off cooking time though.
Why use TVP as the meat-replacement? It has a consistency that's so similar to ground beef, the resemblance truly is phenomenal. On top of that, TVP provides lots of protein, is pretty much completely fat-free and makes this sauce ultra filling, robust and satisfying. Try it and you won't miss the meat at all!
Serve with rigatoni or tagliatelle with a nice glass of red wine for the full Italian pasta experience. Hope you enjoy! 🙂
TVP stands for Textured Vegetable Protein and comes from soybeans. It is actually a by-product during the making of soybean oil: the oil is extracted from the beans and what's left is a protein concentrated product (TVP). It can also be called soy meat or soya chunks.
TVP is fairly unexpensive, high-in-protein, low-in-fat, mild in flavor and very shelf stable. It has such a nice crumbly and chewy texture making it great to use as a meat replacement in vegan pasta sauces, burgers, tacos, salads, etc.
You can find TVP in some grocery stores (Whole Foods Market carries it), but also easy to find online.
More TVP recipes to try
Why you'll love this recipe
- Filled with healthy veggies
- High in plant-based protein
- Satisfying with a nice chewy bite
- Thick and robust consistency with a touch of creaminess
- Great for freezing and meal-prep
- Very flavorful
- Vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free
Ingredients you'll need
- TVP: I used the TVP from Bob's Red Mill.
- Vegetables: onion, carrots, celery, garlic and mushrooms. The veggies are first roasted, which helps the sauce develop more flavors.
- Canned tomato products: tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. If you would like more chunks of tomatoes, feel free to use diced tomatoes instead of the crushed ones.
- Red wine: adds so much flavor to this vegan meat sauce. If you don't want to use it, then swap for more veggie broth.
- Veggie broth: used to rehydrate the TVP.
- Dried herbs: I love using dried oregano and basil for bolognese, but you can also use Italian mix, parsley, thyme, etc. Bay leaves would also add some extra flavor.
- Sweetener: optional, you will need just a little bit to help balance the acidity from the sauce. I used maple syrup, but any sweetener will work.
- Plant-based milk + Nutritional Yeast: added at the end when the sauce is done to balance the flavor, but to also make it slightly creamier.
How to make it
Rehydrate the TVP
In a bowl, combine the TVP with the broth and let it sit until ready to use. The TVP will swell and soften while absorbing on the liquid.
Sauté the veggies
Warm up a large pot and start by sautéing the onion, carrot and celery. You can use a small amount of oil to help them brown or simply use a little water for an oil-free recipe. Keep cooking on medium-high heat while stirring often.
Then, add the garlic and mushrooms and keep cooking for another 3-5 minutes.
Once the veggies are browned, then deglaze with the wine and let it cook down a bit.
Add the rehydrated TVP, all the tomato products, dried herbs, sweetener and salt. Stir and cook covered on low-medium heat for at least 30 minutes (longer is better!). Lift the cover once in a while to stir and ensure the bottom isn’t sticking (careful, it splatters easily).
Finish up and serve
Once the sauce is done, turn off the heat and add the plant-based milk and nutritional yeast. Stir and taste to adjust seasonings.
Serve over cooked pasta, enjoy!
Watch how to make it
- Take some time to brown the veggies first before adding the tomatoes. All the caramelized bits will add so much flavor to the sauce.
- This sauce is best when cooked at lower heat for a longer period of time. I'll usually make it when I'm around and let it cook for more than 30 minutes, simply stirring once in a while.
- The sauce itself is completely gluten-free, so simply serve with gluten-free noodles if you are following a GF diet.
- Try not to omit the mushrooms. They are essential for deeper flavor, I think, and also partake into giving the sauce a nice crumbly and meaty consistency.
- You can also finely grate the carrots instead of dicing them for great texture.
Variations to the recipe
You can customize this TVP bolognese sauce in so many ways. Here are some ideas:
- Swap the red wine for white wine.
- Add more veggies such as zucchinis and bell peppers.
- You can combine the TVP with cooked lentils or chopped walnuts for more texture.
- For even more umami flavor, add a spoonful of miso paste.
- Other flavoring ingredients you can include in the sauce: vegan Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and red pepper flakes for a little heat.
- If you have some fresh herbs, such as parsley or basil, add some at the end of the cooking process.
- Sometimes I'll add some of my unflavored vegan coffee creamer from Nut Pods when the sauce is done to make it even creamier and richer in flavor, just like a real bolognese. You could also add some coconut cream as well for a similar result.
Bolognese is typically served over tagliatelle noodles, but use your favorite kind! I love rigatoni for bolognese, it is also easier for my kids to eat these kind of noodles. Fettuccini, penne, linguini or spaghetti would all be great choices as well. Even zoodles (zucchini noodles) would be amazing.
This TVP pasta sauce can also be used to make lasagna or lasagna rolls ups.
Make sure to completely cool down the sauce first and then transfer in air-tight container to store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Can also be frozen for 3 months.
Reheat using the microwave or on the stove. Try to store the pasta apart from the sauce, the noodles keep a better texture that way. Definitely avoid freezing the sauce with the noodles, they will get mushy.
This recipe is GREAT for meal-prep. If you have a large pot, then you could even make double batch and freeze in family size portions so you have a few meals ready to go.
More tomato pasta sauce you might like
- Tofu bolognese
- One-pot tomato cabbage pasta
- Quick marinara sauce
- Vegan baked ziti
- Vegan creamy tomato pasta
- Penne pomodoro
- Vegan cajun pasta
- Vegetable pasta sauce
- One-pot vegan goulash
I hope you like this TVP 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. Your feedback is so helpful!
- 1 ½ cup TVP (Textured Vegetale Protein)
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 yellow onion - chopped
- 2 carrots - finely chopped
- 2 celery sticks - finely chopped
- 8 oz mushrooms (cremini or white) - finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic - crushed
- 1 cup dry red wine - or more vegetable broth, white wine works too
- 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
- 2x 15 oz canned tomato sauce
- 6 oz canned tomato paste
- ½ tbsp dried oregano
- ½ tbsp dried basil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup - or any sweetener
- 1 tsp salt - or to taste
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ¾ cup plant-based milk (I used plain oat milk)
- cooked pasta - to serve
- In a medium bowl, add the tvp and pour the vegetable broth over. Stir and let sit until ready to use.
- In a large pot, start by cooking the onion, celery and carrots for about 3-5 minutes on medium-high heat stirring often (use a little oil or water to prevent them from sticking to the bottom).
- Then, add the mushrooms, garlic and cook for 3-5 more minutes.
- Add the red wine and cook for a few minutes or until cooked down.
- Then, add the dried oregano, dried basil, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, maple syrup, salt and the rehydrated tvp. Stir well, cover and cook on low heat (keep on a low simmer) for at least 30 minutes, but ideally 40-50 minutes. Stir a few times to ensure it does not stick to the bottom and adjust heat level accordingly (careful not to burn yourself as it tends to splash).
- Once done, remove from the heat, add the nutritional yeast and plant-based milk, stir and taste to adjust flavor.
- Serve warm over cooked pasta.
- Storage: cool down the sauce completely first and then keep it in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Can also be frozen (best apart from the noodles). To reheat, use the microwave or the stove.
- You can customize your sauce by adding some red pepper flakes for a little heat, vegan Worcestershire sauce, fresh herbs (basil or parsley), walnuts, cooked lentils, etc.
- Try cooking the sauce at low heat for a longer period of time, this is the secret to developing deeper flavors and mellowing the acidity from the tomatoes.