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Bolognese Sauce with Tempeh and Mushrooms: It’s Vegan!

Bolognese Sauce with Tempeh and Mushrooms: It’s Vegan!

This Plant-Based Sauce is a lightened up, hearty and delicious! A recipe to master.

The savory, delicious sauce tucks into the rounds of rigatoni pasta
Add cubes of Roasted Zucchini – boost the veggies!

Tempeh is a staple protein source and perfect for a vegetarian and vegan diet – a great substitute for meat… really grabs flavors!
Cooked with classic techniques: Sweating, Sautéing and Braising.

Bolognese Sauce with Tempeh and Mushrooms: It’s Vegan!


12 ounces Organic Tempeh (1  ½  packages) I have used Lightlife Organic Original Tempeh 

2 teaspoons + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (divided)

½ cups onions, peeled, diced ¾″

1 /2 cup carrots*, peeled, diced ¾″

½ cup celery, peeled, diced ¾″

.35 ounces dried Italian porcini mushrooms (about ⅓ cup – to be soaked)

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned, chopped small (Can use a food processor – pulsing to chop)

2 teaspoons fresh garlic, peeled, minced or finely grated 

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, stemmed and lightly chopped (or ½ teaspoon dried)

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

½ teaspoon sea salt   

2 cups chopped tomatoes in juice**

1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste, I’ve used Italian Mutti brand 

½ cup dry white wine 

3 tablespoons fresh herbs – parsley or small basil leaves 

1 to 1  ½ pounds rigatoni pasta, cooked al dente,  preferably bronze cut Italian



Soak the Porcini Mushrooms:
Gently rinse the dried porcini mushrooms, add to a bowl. Bring 3/4 cups of water to a boil and add to the bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes to rehydrate – will produce a nice mushroom “broth.” Set aside. Chop the mushrooms after soaking into 3/4″ pieces.

If you do not want to do this step, add 3/4 cups of hearty vegetable broth to the pan instead of the mushrooms & mushroom broth. 


Steam the Tempeh:
I always steam it first – it relaxes the tempeh cakes so it can accept more flavors –  but it also makes the tempeh much more tender and mellow.
Simply set the tempeh in steamer basket over water, simmer covered for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, chop the tempeh into small 1/4″ cubes, set aside.


First step is to Sauté/Sweat the Mirepoix (French for onion, carrots and celery – a base for a sauce.) Chop these three finely (I use my handy small 4 cup food processor, pulsing.)

In a large 12″ sauté pan, add 2 teaspoons olive oil, heat to medium-low.
Sauté the vegetables until softened, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate, set aside.


Cook Tempeh and Vegetables with Sauce:
Clean out skillet with a paper towel, add 1 T. olive oil, set temperature to medium-high.
When hot, add chopped tempeh and cremini mushrooms, stirring up well.
Let brown, do not stir. When browning underneath, give a big stir and let brown through; about 5 minutes total.
Add garlic, pepper, salt and thyme, sauté one minute.


Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste; stir in and cook, still at medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the wine, the “broth” from the porcini mushrooms and the chopped, soaked porcini mushrooms.
Add the reserved vegetables (Mirepoix), stir in.
Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and Braise. Let simmer for 35 minutes.

Makes enough sauce for 8 portions.


To serve:
Add cooked al dente pasta to sauce, over low heat, stir to warm through.
(Top with warm roasted zucchini if using.)
Serve in individual bowls, or one large one for passing.
Top with chopped fresh herbs and enjoy.


Extra Veggie Option:
I like to add small cubes of roasted zucchini on top of the sauce: Cut zucchini into small cubes, toss with a small amount of olive oil, salt & pepper and roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until lightly golden. 

*I use multi-colored heirloom carrots, orange, purple and yellow (all with antioxidants.)
** I use Pomi Brand tomatoes, in a box, from Italy. I choose these because they are free of additives… just “tomatoes.” I dislike tomatoes with citric acid and “natural flavors” as they are preservatives and chemicals which are not needed. Sorry to inform – but mostly all canned tomatoes have these ingredients in them … read labels!!


See BLOG for many more photos and information including nutrition.

This recipe may not be reproduced without the consent of its author, Karen Sheer.

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