A Traditional Bolognese Sauce Without the Meat

The dark colour and umami flavour of mushrooms are a natural replacement for slow simmered meat in this traditional sauce.

Here are a few tips to make the perfect sauce:

#1: Choose firm eggplants

Over-mature ones often have a more bitter flavour. Keep eggplant moist while roasting; fill a shallow pan with water and place in bottom of oven.

#2: Avoid rubbery mushrooms

Cook in batches over relatively high heat. If the pan is too full or the heat is too low, mushrooms steam versus brown. For best flavour, use a mix of mushrooms such as shiitake and portobello, and throw in a few seasonal mushrooms, such as late-summer chanterelles.

#3: Timing is crucial

Make sure shallots and garlic are soft before adding in rosemary, chili and umami powder.

For more of Jennifer’s meatless recipes, check out her French Chestnut Sausage Rolls or Chickpea & Fennel Balls.

BolognesePhoto Credit: Ryan Szulc
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
6servings 20minutes 45minutes
Servings Prep Time
6servings 20minutes
Cook Time
Servings: servings
Servings: servings
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F (232°C). Brush both sides of eggplant slices with 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil; lightly sprinkle with salt. Roast in top third of oven until golden around edges and soft in centre, about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When hot, add 1 tbsp (15 mL) each oil and butter. Add half the mushrooms; fry until browned around edges, about 8 minutes. Turn into a bowl. Heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) each oil and butter and cook remaining mushrooms; add to bowl. (Reduce heat during cooking, if needed, to prevent burning.)
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add remaining butter to pan; add garlic and shallot. Stir occasionally until soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in rosemary, chili and umami powder for last minute of cooking.
  4. Turn eggplant, mushrooms and shallot mixture into a food processor; pulse a few times to chop — mixture should be chunky, not puréed. Place back in pot; stir in tomatoes. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring often; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes to let flavours blend.
  5. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain noodles; toss with sauce and basil.
Recipe Notes

Nutrients per serving: 276 calories, 7 g protein, 14 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 33 g carbohydrates (4 g fibre), 15 mg cholesterol, 196 mg sodium

Note: Takii umami powder is made from shiitake mushrooms. It's vegan, gluten-free and doesn't contain MSG. Look for it in specialty food and health stores or online.