Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Vegetarian Bolognaise

There was a time, quite a long time ago now actually, when I stuck to a mostly vegetarian diet. A large part of it was because I was somewhat broke at the time, but it was also an effort to make my diet healthier by learning how to eat more vegetables. When you grow up being a fussy, picky eater and saying that you don't like vegetables there is a lot that you miss out on, and when I decided it was time to eat properly I had no idea of how to cook anything other than ordinary, boring vegetables like peas and carrots, not to mention how to get all the nutrition that I needed without meat. So I discovered a lot of things about myself when I went vegetarian - it turns out that I really like broccoli for one thing, and sweet potato and pumpkin  are amazing! How did I not like them as a child? I definitely don't like cabbage and cauliflower, but mushrooms don't actually taste that bad, they just have a slimy texture. Texture is important for me and there are loads of things that I don't like to eat because of that - I hardly ever eat courgettes and aubergines because they have a funny texture. Still, while vegetables can be great there are times that you crave meat oriented comfort foods like roast chicken, real beef lasagna and a good spaghetti bolognaise. I wouldn't even want to try to replace roast chicken with something else, but I did learn that I could make a very 'real' bolognaise sauce, with a thick, meaty texture, using only vegetables. It turns out that the trick is to use the type of vegetables that have a tough, fibrous texture, which I often don't like, and to puree them with a hand-blender until the sauce is reduced to a really small chunks. So here is a very good mimic of bolognaise which is surely very healthy, full of mushrooms for vitamins B & D and iron, courgette for vitamins A & C and folate, and red pepper and tomatoes to provide loads of antioxidants.

Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognaise

1 large onion, sliced or diced (whatever you like best)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
250 grams chopped mushrooms
1 courgette, diced
1 large red pepper, diced
1 can canelini beans
2 cans tomatoes
1 jar (about 380 grams) sundried tomatoes, drained of oil and chopped
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 tablespoon mixed herbs
Spaghetti (just as much as you need, or a different type of pasta.)

To begin, take a large saucepan and heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in it. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent. Then add the mushrooms and courgette and cook on medium heat until both are soft.

When the mushrooms and courgette are quite soft add all of the remaining ingredients. Let the sauce simmer until it is quite thick, then use your hand blender to process it until it has a good sauce consistency. Or tip the sauce into a food processor and blend it that way for a few minutes.

Of course, while the sauce was simmering away I'm sure that you used your time wisely and cooked the spaghetti. If not, do so now and leave the sauce on low heat in the meantime. This recipe will make loads of sauce, enough for a family of four or five I'm sure because it fed just me for about a week. Serve it over hot spaghetti and sprinkle with some parmesan to make it extra good. You could also try the leftovers on a baked potato, that's really good also.

1 comment:

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