Vegan ragu

Vegan ragu

vegan ragu fork

It’s been a tough week and we are in need of some comfort. Our four legged family member has had a bit of a setback after her operation and we’ve been worried sick. She started getting a bit more excited about food and going outside today so things are looking up, but she is still not completely out of the woods. She is booked in for a checkup on Monday, fingers crossed it goes well.

As pasta is high up on my list of comfort foods, I’ve been busy making a new kind of vegan ragu this past week. It’s delicious, with a great depth of flavour and lots of texture. It’s been a hit in our house and I hope it will be in yours too. The recipe has quite a few ingredients, but don’t panic – most of them are cupboard staples and a few tricky ones can totally be replaced – this recipe is really flexible. It can be prepared in advance – in fact, like any ragu recipe, it benefits from being made at least a day ahead as it gives all the flavours a chance to develop and get acquainted with one another 🙂 . Right, let’s jump straight into it, below are some tips and suggestions you may find useful.

MORE ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS

PORCINI: These dry wild mushrooms add heaps of flavour so it’s worth using them if you can find them / afford them. I find that buying them in bulk online is cheaper than getting them at a grocery store and they last forever if stored in an airtight jar in a dry cupboard. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t have them though, I made versions of this ragu without porcini and they were still delicious. A mushroom stock cube (sometimes called an umami stock cube) is a great replacement for the porcini stock and extra walnuts would make up for the chopped up rehydrated porcini.

OYSTER MUSHROOMS: These are widely available in the UK these days. They have a great meat-like texture and have a lower water content than chestnut / cremini mushrooms for example so that’s why I chose them for this recipe. Fresh shiitake will also work nicely, but if that’s not an option, regular mushrooms will do too. If using regular mushrooms, I would recommend cooking the water off in a pan first, before marinating and baking.

NUTRITIONAL YEAST: If you are a seasoned (no pun intended) vegan, you probably have this in your cupboard already as it’s such a great seasoning, but if not a heaped teaspoon of red (or white) miso will do the trick too.

CUMIN, CINNAMON, NUTMEG: I’ve made different versions of this ragu with various spices and each of them works beautifully. I’ve only used a small amount for a bit of background flavour, feel free to increase to ½ tsp or more if you like it and are confident with your spices. Cinnamon spiced tomato based sauces are a mainstay of Greek cooking, cumin is a Middle Eastern influence and nutmeg is traditionally used in classic French and Italian ragu recipes.

FRESH HERBS: I like to use fresh herbs here, but you can totally use dried herbs too. Start of with ½ tsp each and add more to taste.

WINE: Wine adds a lovely depth of flavour, but if you don’t consume alcohol, simply use veggie stock and a small amount of quality balsamic vinegar.

TOMATO PASSATA: I used tomato passata (essentially pureed tomatoes) as it’s quicker and therefore more convenient to use than canned tomatoes and I wanted this recipe to be fairly straightforward. Alternatively you can use a 400 g / 14 oz can of canned tomatoes (quality plum tomatoes would be my choice) and about 240-480 ml / 1-2 cups of water to break them down during the simmering process.

WALNUTS: I like using them for a bit of surprise crunch and extra nutrition, but you can easily swap them out for cooked lentils, for example.

SUGAR: While you can skip it, I feel like a tiny amount of sweetness is useful to round the flavours of this ragu a little. I tend to add 1 tsp of sugar to all of my sauces. Alternatively, a date syrup – available in Middle Eastern grocers or you can make it yourself – is a great and convenient addition that melds in nicely, especially if the sauce features spices like cumin or cinnamon.

vegan ragu ingredients

vegan ragu mushroom prep

Tear the mushrooms into strips using your hands, chop into a rough dice and coat in the marinade. Spread on a baking tray and bake until golden.

vegan ragu mushroom mince

This is what mushroom mince should look like when it’s done. Add it into the sauce at the end to bulk it up, add texture and flavour.

vegan ragu aromatics mire poix

vegan ragu making ragu

vegan ragu pasta mixed in

vegan ragu pot close up

vegan ragu plate

serves
6-7
PREP
30 min
COOKING
45 min
serves
6-7
PREPARATION
30 min
COOKING
45 min
INGREDIENTS
VEGAN RAGU

  • 15 g / 1/3 oz dried porcini (optional) or mushroom stock cube
  • 300 g / 10½ oz oyster mushrooms
  • 45 ml / 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari if GF), divided
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika, divided
  • 6 tsp tomato paste / concentrate / purée, divided
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin (cinnamon or nutmeg is also delicious)
  • a good pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves chopped finely
  • 4 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • 2 carrots, very finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, very finely diced
  • 180 ml / ¾ cup vegan red wine
  • 360 ml / 1½ cups tomato passata
  • 2 dry bay leaves
  • 50 g / ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional), adjust to taste

REMAINING INGREDIENTS

  • fresh thyme or parsley, to garnish
  • homemade vegan parmesan, to garnish (optional)
  • 500 g / 17½ oz dry tagliatelle (GF if required), cooked
METHOD
  1. If using porcini, soak them in 480 ml / 2 cups of boiling water as much in advance as you can. You can use a mushroom stock cube dissolved in boiling water instead.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200° C / 390° F (or 20° C / 70° F less with a fan) and grab a large baking tray.
  3. Cut any wooden, tough bits off the mushroom stems. Using your hands, tear the mushrooms into strips starting from the cap. Chop mushroom strips into a dice.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine 15 ml / 1 tbsp olive oil, 15 ml / 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp tomato puree and nutritional yeast (a sprinkle of garlic powder is also nice). Mix well and coat chopped mushrooms in this mixture. You can leave the mushrooms to marinate for a few hours, but you can also just bake them straight away – it makes little difference to the overall ragu flavour.
  5. Spread mushrooms on a baking tray and bake for about 10 minutes, give them a good stir and bake for a further 10-15 minutes.
  6. While the mushrooms are baking, heat 30 ml / 2 tbsp of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add diced onion and sauté on a low heat for a few minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
  7. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for a about 2-3 minutes (until it softens and becomes fragrant), stirring frequently.
  8. Season (bearing in mind that soy sauce contributes saltiness too), add the remaining teaspoon of smoked paprika, cumin, chilli and chopped herbs. Stir well to coat.
  9. Next, add in carrots and celery dice. Sauté for a few minutes before adding wine. Allow the wine to cook off before adding tomato passata.
  10. Rinse rehydrated porcini under the tap to ensure there is no grit in them, dice very finely and add to the pan togeter with mushroom stock taking care not to tip in the grit that settles at the bottom.
  11. Add tomato passata, the rest of the tomato paste, 15 ml / 1 tbsp soy sauce and bay leaves. Reduce the sauce (lid off) on a low heat for about 20 minutes. Give it a stir from time to time.
  12. Stir in chopped walnuts and baked oyster mushrooms. Taste, adjust the seasoning if needed. For best flavour, store the sauce in the fridge overnight for the flavours to meld.
  13. When serving with pasta, reserve about 240 ml / 1 cup of pasta cooking water (you may not need all of it) to loosen the sauce a little and make it coat your pasta strands better.

NOTES
Please see the tips on ingredients and possible swaps in blog post above the photos.

SHARE
NUTRITIONAL INFO
calories
179
9%
sugars
5 g
5%
fats
11 g
16%
saturates
1 g
7%
proteins
5 g
10%
carbs
12 g
5%
*per 0.5 cup sauce (1/7th of the total recipe)
How would you rate this recipe?
This is a test string

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

5.0
10 reviews, 18 comments
REVIEWS & QUESTIONS
Jams:
Awesome!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, so pleased to hear that you enjoyed it! x Ania
Suzan:
This ragu is so good! I love it to not use the substitute meat from the supermarket. Oyster mushrooms are the best. The ragu is full of flavor and very rich. My stepchildren liked it a lot (they think vegan food is stupid).
Be careful with the fresh rosemary 😅
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Suzan,
    I'm so happy that both you and your stepchildren enjoyed this ragu despite them not being on the same page when it comes to vegan food (hopefully they will come round, their life on the planet is at stake :( ). In the meantime, thank you for leading by example and your lovely comments. x Ania
Rebecca:
Absolutely delicious! The texture was amazing and so full of flavour. A big hit in our house, will definitely be making again ❤️
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you Rebecca, I am so happy to hear that this ragu was such a success! And I really appreciate you taking the time to review, it helps me recipes to found. x Ania
Hayley:
Absolutely delicious recipe, will definitely make this a regular weeknight meal and great for batch cooking and freezing! Also made the vegan parmesan, which is miles better than any shop bought vegan parmesan I've tried.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thanks so much, Hayley! So lovely to hear that you enjoyed it and the vegan parmesan as well. So nice to nice to see you try my concoctions :) x Ania
Tillie:
Hi, after a heart event last year, I have been trying to live a healthier life which has also included eating vegan food. It has been a challenge getting my husband to make a shift away from meat and sometimes we still have separate meals. This meal, however, is an absolute winner with him so THANK YOU for adding another staple to our menu options! Tille.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Tillie,
    I'm delighted that both you and your husband enjoyed this ragu so much. I'm sorry to hear about your health issues, but it's amazing that you've decided to make some positive changes off the back of it and I hope that you will enjoy the experience of cooking different meals as you do it more and more and your husband will discover that food without animal products can taste just as delicious! x Ania
Sanne:
This is an amazing recipe. It wasn’t quick, it took me a while to make it. But is was so worth the effort.
And even our picky 5 yr old loved it.
I reduces the smoked paprika a bit, but that is very personal, I think. For me the smoke taste becomes too strong very quick.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Yay, thanks so much for your kind words, Sanne! So happy it went down so well, including your little one - I hear from my friends that little kids are the pickest eaters. I am glad you redcued smoked paprika to your taste, I love it but I realise it's not for everyone. Thank you so much for taking the time to review, that means a lot. x Ania
Erica:
Fantastic recipe! I didn’t have the porcini so I used a little white miso+water for umami & so skipped the soy sauce on the step adding the broth & sauce (still used the soy to season the shrooms before baking) Next time, if not using the porcini mushrooms, I’’ll definitely up the amount of oyster- or maybe add some cremini or shiitake- just so the finished product is super full of mushroom-y goodness. Will definitely make again- thank you!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Erica,
    I am so pleased to hear that you enjoyed it and so happy to meet another mushroom fanatic like myself :) I love them, but I find that many people don't share my love for them, especially here in the UK...not sure why. Great idea to add other types of mushrooms if you cannot get hold of procini. x Ania
Tim:
Made this the other night. Used crumbled tofu instead of oyster mushrooms, needed baking for probably twice as long but the end result was delightful. Thanks for the delicious recipe
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks Tim, I glad you enjoyed the flavours. Great idea to swap out for tofu, especially smoked one in this context is divine. x Ania
Lorraine:
I made this last night and it was delicious. I had to sub porcini mushrooms with mushroom stock and oyster mushrooms with regular. Had the leftovers for lunch today and it was even tastier! Definitely will be making this available
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Lorraine,
    Great to hear that it was a hit with you despite not having some of the ingredients. And thank you for taking the time to review, I really appreciate it. x Ania
sanji:
just made this and wow a really comforting meal with lots of umami. thank you for another amazing recipe 🤗
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much, Sanji! I am delighted to hear that you enjoyed it and thanks so much for taking the time to let me know. x Ania
Dave:
Hi recipe quantities are for 6 or 7 people. Can I freeze any excess ragu. Always useful to have as a go to in the freezer
Thanks - looking forward to trying it
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Dave,
    Yes, absolutely! It makes approx. 3.5 cups of sauce and 0.5 cup is enough for 70 g of pasta. Hope this helps and that you'll enjoy it! x Ania
Sue:
Hi,
When you chop the porcini mushrooms do they need cooking before going into the sauce, cant wait to try this recipe x
Thanks
    Ania
    Ania:
    That's a good point, Sue, my mistake. They should have gone in a step earlier, I corrected it now and thanks for pointing it out. x Ania
Sue:
I hope that everything goes well at the vet. recheck. I’m wishing your four legged family member a complete healing and that she/he will be back to a healthy normal very soon.
I know how worrisome a sick/recovering fur baby can be for us. I’ve been there done that at least twice (once with an 8 week old kitten and once with a 13 year old cat……kitten survived, cat did not) within the last three years.
Your vegan ragu with pasta sounds delicious and comforting. I’m looking forward to trying it.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you so much, Sue. We've just returned and it's as we suspected - Tina has to wear a cone of shame for about a month as she keeps on making her injury worse. Poor thing, she is hating it and we are hating doing it to her although we know that it's for her own good. I'm so sorry about your cat passing away, that must have been so hard for you! x Ania
jillian:
This looks outstanding, hope to make soon. So sorry to hear about your fur baby, My yorkie is older and has some health issues. I become ill with stress when she is sick.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks Jillian, I really hope you'll enjoy this ragu! Thank you for your kind words and I am sorry to hear about your pup being ill too. So stressful, you feel so helpless, don't you? x Ania
DON'T MISS A SINGLE RECIPE
Join our mailing list and we we will let you know when we publish a new recipe. You'll receive our DELIGHTFUL DESSERTS E-BOOK as a thank you for supporting us.