Ragù sauce can be prepared in many ways. A fun fact is that on 17th October 1982 the ‘traditional’ recipe of ragù alla bolognese was patented at the Chamber of Commerce in Bologna. This is why we usually distinguish between ragù alla bolognese and all the other kinds of ragù, which slightly vary from the original recipe. In this HowTo I’ll mix national tradition, family tradition and innovation to obtain 3 simple and healthy plant-based ragù alternatives that, unlike tradition, are not so time consuming:
- one vegetarian recipe based on Quorn;
- two vegan alternatives: one based on soy and one on roasted vegetables.
Follow these simple steps and you will always end up with a perfect ragù. Enjoy the ragù sauce with any kind of pasta you prefer.
Ingredients for 4 servings
- 2 jars, about 400 g each, of tomato purée/passata
- 200 ml of low sodium vegetable broth
- 40 g of onion, finely chopped (soffritto)
- 40 g of celery, finely chopped (soffritto)
- 40 g of carrot, finely chopped (soffritto)
- 400 g of Quorn, or crumbled medium tofu or mixed roasted vegetables
(For the mixed roasted vegetables: 1 eggplant/aubergine, 1 zucchini and 1 yellow bell pepper, all diced in in small cubes and roasted together on a baking tray for about 20 minutes at 200° C, or until golden brown.)
- 1 Tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
- a splash of white wine
- a handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped + some fresh basil leaves for decoration
- 2 cloves, ground or powdered
- a sprinkle of nutmeg
- 2 Tbsp of Agave syrup or any other sweetener of your choice. Adjust the quantity balancing the acidity of the kind of tomato purée/passata you are using.
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 20 g of ground cashew nuts mixed with ½ tsp of garlic powder or 20 g of parmesan cheese
- 40 ml of milk, or plant-based milk. I personally dislike mixing milk or plant-based milk in my ragù, but if you really want to follow tradition you might want to use it.
Add the olive oil to a pan and caramelize the soffritto vegetables (the mix of onion, celery, and carrot finely chopped) on a low heat until soft. Add the Quorn or the crumbled soy or the mixed roasted vegetables, season, and stir for about 3-5 minutes. Add the white wine and let it evaporate while stirring. Add the tomato purée/passata, the basil, the spices, the sweetener, half of the vegetable broth, season with salt and pepper, and stir. Let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring every now and then. Add the remaining vegetable broth after 10-15 minutes. When the sauce is ready, if you like, gently incorporate the milk or plant-based milk. Decorate with fresh basil leaves. Sprinkle the cashew and garlic powder mix or the parmesan cheese on top, and serve.
To finely chop the base vegetables for the ragù called ‘soffritto’, made by onion, celery, and carrot, I suggest you use a food processor, even against tradition. The vegetables will perfectly blend in the sauce and it will be faster for your preparation.