Veggie Bolognese Pasta

What happens when you go to the grocery store, and you crave pasta, bolognese to be exact, and the meat you find is not so great. That’s what happened a couple of weeks ago. I went to my closest grocery store (because I was lazy to go to the one I always go to) and wasn’t super impressed with their meat selection. Everybody took all of the chicken. The excellent looking meat was more expensive than I thought. So, in true “enlightened” Jose after reading “Where Cooking Begins” by Carla Lalli Music, I headed up to the produce aisle, and I saw a lot of ideas of what I could do. This is GROWTH, for me *insert meme of growth as a human being* because five years ago, I was the opposite. YOLO, #treatyourself, meal plan by buying two pizzas and eat pizzas for the rest of the week!

In the produce aisle, I saw no broccoli, but cauliflower. I remembered I did my PPC (Spicy Cauliflower Pasta). I then had the idea of taking that ethos and go with a hearty bolognese.

– 12 ounces of mushrooms (shiitake, crimini, Bella)
– 1 medium head of cauliflower, broken into florets
-1/4 cup of Olive Oil; 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil; more for drizzling
-4 tablespoons of butter (unsalted; if you use salted butter, use less salt)
-1 large onion, finely diced
-8 garlic cloves
-1/2 teaspoons of crushed red peppers (more if you want more spiciness)
-1 tablespoon of your herb of choice (I used rosemary)
-1/3 cup of tomato paste (about 3 ounces of paste)
-Kosher Salt & Pepper
-1 lb of rigatoni or any tubular-shaped pasta
-Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces to cook with; more to top at the end)
-3 Tablespoons of chopped Parsley

– A pot to boil Pasta
– A pot too for the bolognese (it has to be deep enough to hold all of the food; I used my Le Creuset Dutch Oven)
– Food processor

How to:

Food Processor prep:

1. Pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Wipe the food processor down.

2. Cut the cauliflower into big chunks. Working in batches, pulse the cauliflowers in the food processor until the prices look like rice. If you have variety in it sizes it’s fine. Transfer to a bowl.

In the pot it goes:

3. Heat oil in a big heavy-bottomed pot with two tablespoons of butter, over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, cook until golden brown (it took me 6 mins). Add onion, cook until soft and slightly golden brown (took me 8-10 mins). Add garlic, pepper, herb (s), and cook until the garlic is soft (3-4 mins).

4. Have that pasta pot ready? If not, get that pot to a boil. Add tomato paste and cook until the paste looks a dark brick red color (2-ish minutes). Add cauliflower and cook, occasionally stirring, until the cauliflower is cooked and begins to stick (aka creating a fond) at the bottom of the pot (about 8-10 mins). Season with salt and pepper to your taste, keep warm over low heat.

Note: The bolognese can be doubled with ease. It makes a BEAUTIFUL veggie lasagna. I increase this every time and leave some in the freezer; that way, I can defrost the bolognese and make pasta quick and efficient during the week.

5. Cook pasta. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes less than the package. Cooking the pasta gives you the chance to finish cooking it in the bolognese, and it also absorbs the sauce.

6. Transfer cooked pasta (I used a spider, you could also use a slotted spoon) to the pot with your sauce. Add 1 cup of parmesan cheese (you could swap it with nutritional yeast as well), remaining butter (2 tablespoons), and 1 cup of the pasta water. Stir vigorously and cook until the pasta is al dente, and sauce is sticky, clinging to the pasta. Remove from heat; add parsley. Adjust seasoning as needed (I always add more red pepper flakes and more Parmesan).

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