8 January 2018

Pappardelle with Porcini Bolognese

Maybe it was the food, maybe the wine, or maybe the company, probably a combination of all 3, but this meal was one of the best I've had in a long time. Deeply rich and savoury, with a sweet note from the tomatoes, just the most incredible bolognese I've ever had, served on a bed of pappardelle with a side of garlic bread, a shaving of vegan parmesan and of course, a glass of red wine.

Spaghetti bolognese, or spag bol was a dish invented outside of Italy - the traditional version being Ragù alla Bolognese, with a sauce consisting only of tomatoes from tomato paste, with the liquid coming from milk and sometimes beef stock too...it's also usually served up with tagliatelle, not spaghetti. This is my take on the dish, with some elements traditional to Italy and some traditional to the version I grew up on, with the addition of porcini mushrooms to the sauce - growing up my mum would actually have to add whole button mushrooms to the dish so my older brother was able to pick them out.

When constructing a dish that's traditionally built on the flavours of meat cooked over a period of time, you have to think about how to replicate the depth of flavour and here's where dried porcini mushrooms come in. I re-hydrated them in boiling water before adding them, along with the liquid from soaking into the sauce, this brings an incredible umami (savoury) note to the dish, adding that depth of flavour you desire. Other notable elements of the sauce are red wine (a must!), plenty of garlic, veggie mince and sautéing the veggies long enough for the flavours to really develop in the pan. It might seem like a lot of garlic in the recipe, but you'll cook all the raw garlic flavour out and it will just enhance the flavour of the overall dish, and in no way overpower it (I promise!).

The whole dish takes about 45 minutes and every ingredient and step is completely worth it for the resulting rich, flavourful and simply incredible sauce you serve up. This meal is perfect dinner party food and I promise you, whether you're cooking for meat eaters, veggies or vegans, there will be clean plates and happy guests all round! You also sneak some veggies in there, with the carrot, celery, garlic and onions used as the base of the sauce - the trick is to chop them so finely that you don't know they're there (you can always use a food processor for this bit). So, this sauce is rich in vitamins A, B6, C, K, potassium, fibre and not to mention protein, from the addition of veggie mince. For some extra nutrition, you could also use wholegrain tagliatelle - flat pasta holds the sauce on it's surface better than round spaghetti!

To go that little step further I'd highly recommend serving this dish up with some garlic bread. I cut a par-baked roll in half, drizzled it with olive oil and spread over a crushed clove of garlic, a little dried parsley and a pinch of salt. I then baked it at 200°C for around 10 minutes - it's garlicky, crispy so so delicious! Red wine, vegan parmesan, black pepper, olive oil and fresh basil are also great additions to the table!

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Pappardelle with Porcini Bolognese | Serves: 4 | Time: 45 mins

You'll need

  • Large sauce pan
  • Sauté pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Chopping board
  • Colander
  • Knife
  • 250ml mug


  • 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • Good splash extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion 
  • 2 giant or 4 large garlic cloves 
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 stick celery 
  • 250g vegan mince
  • 100ml vegan red wine (I used merlot)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Handful fresh basil
  • 350g vegan Pappardelle 


  1. Soak a cup of dried porcini mushrooms in a mug topped up with boiling water.
  2. Finely chop the onion, garlic, carrot and celery, add to a sauté pan with a good splash of extra virgin olive oil and sweat on a medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the veggie mince and cook for a few more minutes.
  3. Turn the heat up slightly and add 100ml red wine and a tbsp of tomato puree, stir the pan until the liquid evaporates. Then add in the soaked mushrooms, including the liquid, the Italian herbs and dried basil and stir until the liquid has evaporated
  4. Reduce the heat, add the tomatoes and season well with salt and black pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes. Finely chop a handful fresh basil and stir into the sauce, check for seasoning and adjust if required. 
  5. When the sauce has 10 minutes remaining, boil the pasta in water with a few pinches of salt until al dentand drain. Also take the time to prepare any other accompaniments (garlic bread, vegan cheese, etc). Divide the pasta onto 4 plates and top with the sauce, serve up and enjoy!

Cassidy xx