Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bolognese Sauce with Seitan Crumbles

Bolognese is a sauce from the town of Bologna, which is north of Tuscany. This is the same town that produces prosciutto di Parma, Parmiganno-Reggiano and balsamico. Food in Bologna is notorious rich and fattening, and quite delicious I might add.

Traditional Bolognese sauce is made with beef, pork and veal and very little tomato. I used the same flavors but eliminated the meat. There are two styles of Bolognese sauce, this one and one that adds milk (which is the antique style). Both are nice but the version with milk is a little richer. I opted to make this version without milk only because I didn’t want to make more almond milk tonight for breakfast tomorrow. If you want to make the antique version add 3/4 cup of milk and ¼ cup of raw cashews, pureed until smooth, a few minutes before serving.

Bolognese Sauce with Seitan Crumbles
Makes 10 cups


1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into chunks
5 carrots. scrubbed and cut into chunks
3 stalks celery, cut into chunks
6 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces tomato paste
7 cups vegetable broth (used homemade roasted vegetable stock no salt added)
1 cup water
½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 pound seitan meat crumbles (or substitute)
1 cup pinot grigio
½ teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Place the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in your food processor and process until you have roughly ground vegetables. You want to stop before the vegetables become a paste, you want small vegetable bits in the sauce. Sauté the vegetables in the olive oil. When the vegetables are soft move some of them aside so there is a clear space in the bottom of the pot and cook the tomato paste to remove the raw taste. Add the vegetable broth and cook over medium heat to combine the vegetable flavors and concentrate the vegetable stock.

Put the dried porcini and water in the microwave and heat for a few minutes so the water is hot. Allow the mushrooms to stand for 30 minutes and when cool and cut them into small dice. Add the mushrooms to the vegetables. Strain the mushroom soaking liquid through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towel and add the strained mushroom liquid to the vegetable pot.

Add the seitan crumbles, pinot grigio, thyme, and nutmeg and continue to cook on low until the sauce has mostly evaporated. Season the ragu with salt and pepper to your taste before serving.

Traditionally this sauce is served with tagliatelli but any pasta will do. I served it tonight with whole-wheat rotini since I like the way the sauce sticks in the ridges of the pasta. Penne would also be good pasta for the same reason.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 166.09
Calories From Fat (12%) - 19.77

Total Fat - 2.24g
Saturated Fat - 0.35g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 442.94mg
Potassium - 499.32mg
Total Carbohydrates - 19.99g
Fiber - 3.73g
Sugar - 5.45g
Protein - 14.03g


This sauce is not what most Americans think of as pasta sauce. It is not a tomato sauce but has a hint of a brick red color from the tomato paste. Bolognese is all about the meat and the battuto (onion, celery and carrot) and is kissed with tomato paste and wine. The sauce has a much more subtle flavor than sauces we tend to get in America. My vegetarian version is very much like the meat versions I have had in Bologna, minus the fat. Both my husband and I enjoyed this tonight with a big salad for dinner. Thankfully we have quite a bit leftover for the freezer so that I can make a quite weeknight dinner when I haven’t planned well. I love having things like this in my freezer inventory for emergencies.


  1. Another one for my list...yum!

  2. Rose,

    The seitan crumbles turned out better than when I used to make this with TVP. We were both very pleased with this sauce.

    I hope you like it as much as we do,

  3. I'll try the crumbles...I've done crumbles before, but my version is just taking some baked seitan and cutting it into small pieces and whizzing it in the blender.

    Your version sounds so flavorful. I wish I had more time to be in the kitchen these days...

  4. Rose,

    I hadn't thought about trying the blender, but that makes sense. I imagine pulsing seitan in the food processor would work well too.

    When you get a chance please post your baked seitan. I would love to see your method and recipe. I tried baked seitan when I first started making it but quickly changed to steamed. Maybe I need to give baked seitan another chance so I would really like to know what you do.


  5. Hi Alicia,

    I did mean the food processor, but I often call it a blender too...I should keep my terminology straight. Hopefully, I'll have time to make some seitan by next weekend, and I'll post it.

    I've used the steamer method making sausages, but I usually get mixed results. I think it's because I don't have a proper set up. I have a small steamer pan that really isn't big enough to steam more than 2 - 3 sausages at a time, so I end up with a pile of sausages, trying to rotate them, and then the tin foil gets torn, and the sausages go bobbley, etc...

  6. Rose,

    Thank you so much. I am looking forward to reading your recipe for baked seitan.

    I can see why a small steamer would be a problem. Do you have a rice cooker? Mine has a steamer insert that is fairly big. How about using your pasta pot with the insert in? That would be big enough that you don't need to move the sausages.


  7. Don't have a rice cooker, but I guess all I really need is a larger steamer insert.


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