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    This vegan ‘Bolognese’ delivers satisfying, saucy and rich flavour

    Joe Yonan

    THE WASHINGTON POST – I’m not usually one for quote marks in recipe names, especially when it comes to plant-based versions of meat-focussed dishes.

    You know, fried “chicken” sandwiches when the “chicken” is actually an oyster mushroom, that kind of thing.

    But sometimes you just can’t help it, such as when you’re cooking a sauce that is renowned for its use of multiple types of meat and for its long process, and you’re doing neither of those things, yet you still want to evoke the reference and feeling.

    You want to focus on vegetables, and you want to get dinner on the table quickly.

    This fantastic recipe from Ella Mills’ latest cookbook is a radical departure from the Italian classic ragu Bolognese.

    It comes together quickly enough for a weeknight and gets its depth of flavour not from meat or from time, but from a smart combination of umami-packed ingredients: two types of mushrooms, two forms of tomato and soy sauce.

    To all you Italian purists out there, I know what you’re thinking.

    Here’s the thing: I don’t eat the meats that are in the traditional Bolognese anymore, and yet I want something with that same vibe.

    So when I spied the recipe in How to Go Plant-Based, I gave it a whirl, and appreciated how dried porcinis and fried creminis, along with canned (or any precooked) lentils, gave me some of that same effect.

    I tossed the sauce with pasta, twirled my fork, and issued an audible sigh that communicated sheer comfort and satisfaction.

    Mushroom and Lentil ‘Bolognese.’ PHOTOS: THE WASHINGTON POST
    Work in batches to avoid overcrowding the skillet, add a layer of mushrooms and let it cook without disturbing until lightly browned on one side for one minute

    MUSHROOM AND LENTIL ‘BOLOGNESE’

    Active time: 40 minutes

    Total time: One hour

    Six servings

    This hearty sauce gets its chunky texture and rich flavour from lentils and mushrooms (along with tomato paste and soy sauce for umami), with a little freshness from parsley.

    It’s great over pasta, but you can also use it to top rice or other grains, or baked white or sweet potatoes.

    Storage Notes: Refrigerate leftovers for up to five days. The sauce can be frozen for up to three months.

    INGREDIENTS

    One-and-a-quarter-cup low-sodium vegetable broth

    One ounce dried porcini mushrooms

    Two tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more as needed

    One medium yellow or white onion (eight ounces), chopped

    One medium carrot, scrubbed and chopped

    One celery stalk, chopped

    Three cloves garlic, chopped

    Half-teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste

    Half-teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    Two tablespoons tomato paste

    One tablespoon tamari or light soy sauce

    Two cups tomato puree

    Two (15-ounce) cans green lentils, drained and rinsed

    One pound dried whole-wheat spaghetti

    One pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced

    Half-cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

    DIRECTIONS

    Pour the broth into a microwave-safe bowl or liquid measuring cup and microwave on HIGH until hot, one to two minutes.

    Add the dried mushrooms and soak for 10 minutes, then pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer to catch any grit.

    Rinse the mushrooms, squeeze out the extra water and chop them.

    While the mushrooms are soaking, in a Dutch oven over medium heat, heat one tablespoon of the oil until it shimmers.

    Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, half teaspoon of salt and the pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, eight to 10 minutes.

    Pour in the mushroom broth and chopped mushrooms, and add the tomato paste and tamari, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer, then add the tomato puree and lentils.

    Return to a simmer and cook until the mixture thickens and the flavours have melded, 15 to 20 minutes.

    While the lentil mixture is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

    Cook the spaghetti until al dente according to the package instructions. Drain well.

    Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over high heat, heat one teaspoon of the oil until it shimmers.

    Working in batches to avoid overcrowding the skillet, add a layer of mushrooms and let it cook without disturbing until lightly browned on one side, one minute.

    Flip the mushrooms and cook on the other side until lightly browned, one minute.

    Transfer the cooked mushrooms to the lentil mixture.

    Continue with the remaining mushrooms, adding one teaspoon of oil before frying each batch, and adding more oil as needed.

    Stir the parsley into the sauce. Taste, and season with more salt as needed.

    Add the spaghetti to the sauce and toss until thoroughly coated, and serve hot.

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