This walnut and tofu “meat” bolognese sauce will be your new go-to family dinner during the cold weather months. Vegan and refined-sugar free with gluten-free and oil-free versions, this recipe will surely satisfy everyone at the table. Made with loads of fresh vegetables and simple, pantry-staple ingredients this meal will become your family’s new favorite dish.
There aren’t many dishes I miss since going vegan over a year ago. But a good, hearty bolognese sauce is one of them. Well….was one of them. Since this recipe has been in my life, I definitely don’t miss my old version. This walnut and tofu “meat” bolognese sauce has it all going on. It’s got plenty of protein just like the original but it’s made even better by including all the veggies. And, let’s be honest, any excuse to eat pasta is a good one. Let’s explore this vegan bolognese sauce a little more shall we?
Baked Tofu “Meat”
So this bolognese sauce is made up of three parts: the sauce, the walnut “meat”, and the tofu “meat”. I have found that including both tofu and walnuts in this recipe really enhances the texture and assists in recreating a “traditional” bolognese sauce. The baked tofu is simply crumbled, marinated in spices and oil (or water for an oil-free version), and baked in the oven. Super, super simple right? So while that’s baking in the oven we can move on to the rest of the “meat” sauce.
To complete the texture of the vegan bolognese sauce we need to make the walnut “meat” sauce. This is just as easy as the baked tofu portion of the recipe mentioned above. Simply place the walnuts into a food processor and pulse until the texture resembles that of, you guessed it, ground beef. Once the vegetables are soft, the walnuts and baked tofu will be added along with the sauce and a few spices.
In this section of the recipe I like to keep things as close to the original meat version as possible. That being said I always use: onions, carrots, celery, and zucchini. Some people like to include mushrooms. Personally, I love mushrooms, just not in my bolognese sauce. But if you’re one of those mushroom bolognese folk then by all means, throw them in! This recipe is very forgiving so you can use whichever vegetables you have or, to save money, vegetables currently in season. Some other vegetable ideas include: eggplant, leeks, and winter or summer squash.
There you have it my friends! My super simple walnut and tofu “meat” bolognese sauce. Throw this sauce on your favorite whole-wheat or gluten-free pasta. You could even up the veggie intake more if you’d like and spiralize yourself some zucchini, sweet, potato or carrot noodles. The possibilities are endless and that’s part of the appeal of this recipe. Make it your own and customize it to your family’s preferences.
Enjoy and be sure to let me know what you think down in the comments below.
Ingredient Health Benefits
Basil- phenolic compounds
Carrot- vitamin A; fiber; manganese; B vitamins; potassium; vitamin C
Celery- vitamin A; vitamin C; B vitamins; calcium; iron; magnesium; phosphorus; potassium
Olive oil- Monounsaturated fat; polyphenols; anti-inflammatory properties
Onion-antioxidants; fiber; vitamin C; folate
Tomato- vitamin C; potassium; polyphenols
Walnuts- omega-3s; B vitamins; phosphorus; magnesium; copper; phytochemicals
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Walnut and Tofu Bolognese Sauce
- 16 oz extra firm tofu
- 1½ tbsp coconut aminos/soy sauce
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1½ tsp chili powder
- 1½ tsp paprika
- ¾ tsp garlic powder
- 1½ tbsp olive oil (use water for oil-free version)
Walnut Bolognese Sauce
- 1-2 tsp olive oil (use water for oil-free version)
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 cup celery, finely diced
- 1 cup carrot, finely diced
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 cup walnuts pulsed in food processor to resemble ground beef
- 28 oz tomato sauce (Trader Joe's is my favorite)
- ½ cup pasta water
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- salt to taste
- 16 oz pasta of choice (use whole-wheat, gluten-free, or spiralized zoodles)
Tofu Crumbled "Meat"
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Begin by pressing the tofu in a tofu press or place between two cloth dishtowels and top with something heavy. Press for at least 10 minutes.
- While tofu is being pressed, whisk together the coconut aminos, nutritional yeast, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder and olive oil. The mixture should resemble a paste.
- Crumble tofu into the size of ground meat and mix with marinade until all tofu pieces are coated.
- Spread into an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes stirring half way through cooking. Watch the tofu closely so that it doesn't burn.
- Prepare pasta according to package directions cooking until al dente. Reserve ½ cup pasta cooking water for bolognese sauce.
Walnut Bolognese Sauce
- Prepare walnuts but pulsing in a food processor until course. Should resemble ground beef.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil, garlic, onion, celery, carrots and zucchini. Cook for 4-5 mintues until onion is transleucent and zucchini is soft.
- Add pulsed walnuts, prepared tofu crumbled "meat", tomato sauce, basil, oregano, salt (to taste), and reserved pasta cooking water. Simmer for 10-15 minutes allowing flavors to combine.
- Serve over pasta and top with vegan parmesan cheese.