Bolognese is a misunderstood dish. When you read the name, I’m willing to bet that images of your mom’s thick tomato sauce come to mind, and while lovely, that’s not bolognese. Put simply, bolognese is more meat ragout than tomato sauce. It’s a rich stew composed of mirepoix, red wine, tomato paste, broth, and of course, red meat. Pasta aside, this meat sauce comes together in one pan, assembled by cooking the ingredients in phases, adding rich color to each phase before adding the next.
Pro Tip: Choose a pasta with lots of nooks and crannies, like radiatori, that way it holds onto an ample amount of sauce. Pastas like spaghetti and fettuccini will work, but they won’t cling to this bulky meat sauce like radiatori or fusilli will.
When it’s ready to be served, the pasta and sauce are combined an event of holy matrimony, married together in a pan with Parmesan, olive oil, and a ladle or two of pasta water to adhere the bolognese to the pasta. It’s Italian magic at its finest.
Traditional Bolognese with Impossible Meat
Hearty, meaty, and deep meat sauce with fruity wine, savory Impossible meat, and thiccy tomato paste.
- 12 oz (340 grams) Impossible Burger meat
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1 small carrot peeled
- 1 stick of celery peeled
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) Melt Organic butter
- 3/4 cup (170 ml) red wine we went with a mild Italian wine
- 3 cups (680 ml) no-chicken or vegetable broth
- 3 oz (85 grams) tomato paste + 1 oz (30 grams) broth
- 1 bay leaf
- salt to taste
- black pepper
- 12 oz (340 grams) pasta we went with radiatori
- Vegan Parmesan, shredded VioLife and Follow Your Heart are best
- Olive oil
- Pasta water
- Bolognese: Roughly chop your onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, then add them all into a food processor and blitz until they’re finely minced; be sure not to over-process into a paste. This helps them integrate with the meat more than plain chopped vegetables.
- Heat a large high walled sauté pan or dutch oven over medium heat. After about 3 minutes of heating, add in olive oil followed by your veggie mixture and a couple heavy pinches of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies just begin to brown around the edges.
- Add in Impossible meat, another pinch of salt, and continue to cook until brown bits begin to form on the bottom of your pan.
- While meat sears, whisk together tomato paste and 30 grams of broth until smooth. Stir tomato paste mixture into the meat and cook until there’s a heavy amount of browning on the bottom of your pan. Note: You don’t want to burn the tomato paste, instead, you want to create a rich brown color, which will add depth to your sauce.
- Pour in wine and scrape the bottom of your pan to release stuck on bits of meat and veggies. Reduce until pan is mostly dry.
- Add in broth, bay leaf, and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine, reduce heat to medium low, and keep at a bare simmer (uncovered) until sauce is concentrated, pungent in flavor, and thick (30-45 minutes). That’s it! You have bolognese. To make pasta with said bolognese, continue reading!
- Serving: Season four quarts of water (3.79 liters) with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt and bring to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package’s instructions. Note: Keep it on the firmer side of al-dente, as you’re going to finish it off in a pan with sauce later on, thus cooking it even more.
- Reserve 2 cups of pasta water, then transfer drained pasta straight to a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add in a few ladles of bolognese, a handful of shredded Parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil, and 1/2 cup of pasta water. Toss and stir until sauce begins to cling to pasta. If it looks a little dry, add a little more pasta water to loosen.
- Taste, adjust seasoning as needed, and serve! Top with a sprinkle of Parmesan and drizzle of olive oil if desired.