When I decided to focus on TVP for this newsletter, I knew what recipe I wanted to cook with it: Vegan Bolognese.
Myself and my colleague Kellie both do a different version of vegan bolognese. Kellie uses TVP, while I use lentils and walnuts. At the risk of causing a bitter divide by choosing one recipe over the other, I experimented and discovered that a combination of both recipes was just the best darn vegan bolognese I've ever tasted.
And here it is. A really excellent, convincing, rich, hearty bolognese sauce that will be loved by vegans and carnivores alike.
Serves 4-6 plus lunch leftovers
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil,plus a little extra to serve
1 medium carrot, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 celery stalks, finely diced
1/2 cup raw walnut pieces
3/4 cup TVP mince (dry)
1/2 cup laird lentils
3 tsp Italian herb mix
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp miso paste
1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
1 400g can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp sugar
3 bay leaves
1.5 cup liquid veg stock
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast plus extra to serve
Fresh basil to serve
Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over med/med-low heat in a large, heavy-based pot. Add the carrots, onions, and celery. Saute for 8-10 minutes, stirring often, until softened.
Meanwhile, crush the walnuts into coarse pieces in a food processor or by laying them on a chopping board, covering with a tea towel and beating them with a rolling pin (more fun).
Once the vegetables in the pot are soft, add the dry TVP and mix well. Cook for 3 minutes to allow the TVP to toast and absorb the oil. Note: this toasting step is what really elevates the texture of the tvp, and ultimately, the bolognese sauce!
Add the crushed walnuts and another two tablespoons of oil to the pan. Turn the heat up to medium-high and brown for 5 minutes.
Add the Italian herbs, and garlic to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
Stir in the miso, soy sauce, sugar, canned tomatoes, stock and bay leaves. Once the mixture boils, turn the heat down low and gently simmer, uncovered, for 60 minutes. Check liquid level occasionally and add a little water when necessary.
When the lentils are soft enough to your liking and the bolognese has a good consistency, it's ready. Stir in the nutritional yeast. Taste and season generously with black pepper and salt to taste.
Serve with freshly cooked pasta and garnish with more nutritional yeast, a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh basil.