Jun 15, 2013

Spaghetti alla Bolognese. Vegan.

Bolognese sauce, known in Italian as ragù alla bolognese, is a meat-based sauce originating from Bologna, Italy. Spaghetti alla bolognese is a pasta dish invented outside of Italy, consisting of a meat sauce served on a bed of spaghetti. My vegan variation of this popular dish is loaded with heart-healthy “meat” and will fill you up and leave you satisfied. Sometimes, you just want something that seems so decadent but without the empty calories… This is it! Serve with a big salad or a side of greens to increase the nutrient-per-calorie ratio of the meal. You can also use spaghetti squash for a lower carb, grain-free version.

The “ground beef” is made by roasting cauliflower and walnuts. If you do this step ahead (I usually make a bunch of it at a time and freeze it), all you will need to do is to warm up your favorite tomato sauce, add the “meat” and boil the pasta. Easy!


  • 1 pound spaghetti or pasta of your choice (I used brown rice spaghetti)
  • 1 large jar tomato sauce (Walnut Acres Low-Sodium is a good choice, or homemade!)
  • ¼ cup red wine (optional)
        ~ for the ground “beef”
  • 1 small head of cauliflower florets (or just use ½ of a regular sized head)
  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • ½ tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 TBS low sodium soy sauce, like Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 TBS paprika


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a large rimmed cookie sheet or rectangular pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Cut the cauliflower into chunks and add it to a food processor.
  4. Pulse until you reach a crumbly consistency.
  5. Do the same with the walnuts. If you have a large processor they can be processed together.
  6. Transfer the cauliflower and walnuts into a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Stir well. You can use your hands for this. It helps to work everything together.
  7. Spread the mixture out evenly onto the cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, stirring occasionally. You will see the mixture start to get browner. This is good. You don’t want it to get overly browned or dried out so keep an eye on it. When it is evenly browned it is done.
  9. Boil the pasta. 
  10. Add the “meat” plus the wine, if you’re using it, to the sauce and simmer until hot.
  11. Serve!

Serves 4. Enjoy!

Healthy trails,

13 responses to “Spaghetti alla Bolognese. Vegan.”

  1. Helyn, this sounds wonderful. I have a good sauce too & I know how important that plateful of comfort food is with a good sauce. I will give yours a try. The "meat" sounds great for lots of things. Good idea to keep it in the freezer. I love your photographs too! Beautiful blog all around!

  2. Jordan says:

    Any suggestions for a walnut substitution? I don't do well with them 🙁

  3. Helyn says:

    I haven't tried substituting but I think the closest in texture would be pecans. May change the flavor a bit… Can you eat them?

  4. Anonymous says:

    I just discovered your blog and I am very much enjoying sitting here looking through it! This looks delicious! One of my sons has a nut (peanuts and tree nuts) allergy so I am trying to figure out how this would be with something other than nuts…. Looks great though! 🙂

  5. Helyn says:

    Thanks very much for the comment and feedback. While many of my recipes do use nuts there are many that don't, too! Have fun discovering! 🙂

  6. Tanja says:

    Dieses Rezept gehört mittlerweile zu meinen Lieblingsrezepten. Es ist schnell zubereitet und die ganze Familie mag es.

  7. Helyn says:

    Thank you Tanja! I am happy it is your favorite. I hope that you and your family will enjoy it ver much. 🙂

  8. Do you think you could put taco seasoning in this "ground beef" and use it in enchilada or casserole recipes?

  9. Helyn says:

    Absolutely, Teri! What a great idea!!

  10. I just made this tonight and i just have to say it was so delicious! I saved this recipe in my favorites. Thanks Helyn for sharing your talents with us!

  11. Helyn says:

    You're soooo welcome, Jackie! Thanks very much for the feedback! :))

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