This quick and easy vegan bolognese is full of all-day flavour, packed with protein, and is so delicious you can skip the pasta!
Somehow the seasons changed and the clocks changed and we slipped into the circle of darkness, and I didn’t notice.
I mean, I noticed that I needed to change the batteries on my bike lights, and that it was dark outside when I’ve been doing early morning computer work from my kitchen table. But it wasn’t until I came out of a meeting room earlier this week – a meeting that ended at around 3:30pm – and looked out the window of my office that I realized how far we’ve hurtled into the year. By the end of next week the sun will be setting in the 2’s here, and that? That is bonkers.
While some years the darkness has really gotten to me – and I don’t think I’ll ever really adjust to a 2pm sunset – this year, clearly, it’s hardly phased me at all. I wonder if it’s that I’ve finally learned how to winter like a Swede? Maybe. But more likely I’ve just been too damn busy to notice.
My body has definitely noticed, though, and I’ve been craving warm, carby, comfort foods more than usual (though that could also be attributed to my condition, as it were).
I made this tempeh bolognese as a way to sneak more protein into my diet, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I didn’t care whether I had spaghetti to go with it or not, and have packed it for lunch several times by itself and just spooned it up or eaten it with a slice of crusty bread. It’s good. It’s satisfying. It’s comforting, nutritious, and delicious. And it’s the perfect thing for this time of year.
Also, this recipe is easy peasy. It’s so quick you can pull it off on a hungry weeknight after work, but it’s also nice and freezer friendly if you wanted to make a big batch to stash away. And bolognese is an excellent vehicle for sneaky veg, if you’re so inclined. I’ve made this before with cubes of frozen spinach tossed in, or grated zucchini, which practically melts away as it cooks. The tempeh could be replaced with TVP or soy crumbles if you like, but I really like both the nutty flavour and the whole foodsness of the tempeh, especially when browned first.
Tempeh is fermented soy food originally from Indonesia. It is fermented with the mold Rhizopus oligosporus in a process similar to cheese making. The fermentation process makes digestion easier and nutrients like zinc, calcium, and iron are more bio available than in non-fermented soy products like tofu. Tempeh is a great source of plant-based protein. Also, because the soy beans in tempeh are still in their whole form, all of the dietary fiber is still intact. Think of tofu as the white bread of the soy world and tempeh as it’s healthier whole grain cousin. Tempeh is usually purchased in a cake-like form and can be sliced or crumbled, and is often steamed, seared, or stir-fried. Look for tempeh that is covered with a thin whitish bloom. Sometimes it has a few black or grayish spots, which is totally fine, but it should have no evidence of pink, yellow, or blue colouration – a sign that it has become overly fermented.
One year ago: Banana Flax Freezer Waffles and Creamy Cauliflower Pasta Bake
Two years ago: Pumpkin Seed Butter
Three years ago: Whole Wheat Spaghettini with Harissa Roasted Cauliflower
Four years ago: Oat Bars with Apple Butter
Five years ago: Winter Market Soup
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 200g package tempeh, crumbled
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp thyme
- ½ tsp chili powder
- 2 x 400g can diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup water (or more as needed)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion, and sauté until it just begins to brown, stirring frequently.
- Add the garlic, and cook for 2-3 minutes, more, until it has just softened.
- Now add the tempeh crumbles, and sauté with the onions and garlic until the tempeh begins to brown - about five minutes.
- Add the oregano, thyme, and chili and cook with the spices for about a minute.
- Add the diced tomatoes, water, and nutritional yeast and stir well to combine. If the mixture is to thick, add a bit more water as needed (remember it'll thicken as it cooks).
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, and let the bolognese simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve over hot whole wheat spaghetti, with extra nutritional yeast sprinkled over the top.
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