My spaghetti bolognese recipe is easy to make as a deliciously rustic and family-friendly dish. This vegetarian and vegan version of mushroom bolognese includes a flavorful spicy tomato sauce loaded with a few fresh veggies and plenty of button mushrooms. It’s a hearty and comforting dinner or lunch that’s perfect any night of the week!
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About This Recipe
Traditional Italian pasta bolognese recipes feature a meaty tomato sauce served over tagliatelle, pappardalle, fettuccine, penne, or rigatoni pasta.
They originate from Bologna, Italy, as an “everything but the kitchen sink”-type dish made with whatever ingredients are on hand.
Many bolognese sauces therefore usually include minced meat, vegetables like carrots and onions, and lots of garlic.
However, with just a couple of tweaks it is easy to make a vegetarian and vegan version of bolognese sauce. Simply swap the meat for mushrooms and this recipe becomes a real veggie-friendly winner!
It should also be noted that serving bolognese with spaghetti is something unique to outside of Italy. But while my spaghetti bolognese might not be authentic, it is based on a classic Italian recipe and so has a similar flavor profile.
The smooth, spice-filled tomato sauce is hearty, thanks to delicious vegetables and mushrooms – perfect to enjoy with durum wheat spaghetti or any pasta you like.
Follow my easy step-by-step instructions with photos to make mushroom bolognese as a quick and satisfying dinner tonight!
How to Make Spaghetti Bolognese
Sauté Onions, Carrots, Celery
1. First, heat olive oil or preferred neutral oil in a skillet, large saucepan, or wok with a lid on the stovetop. Once hot, add ½ cup of chopped onions, ½ cup of finely chopped carrots, ½ teaspoon of finely chopped garlic and 1 tablespoon of finely chopped celery.
2. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes on medium-low heat until the onions soften.
3. Next add 3 to 3 ½ cups of sliced or chopped button mushrooms.
4. Sauté the mushrooms with the veggies until all water evaporates from the pan. Mushroom will release plenty of water when sautéing. So sauté until all the water evaporates.
5. Then add 3 to 3 ¼ cups of finely chopped tomatoes.
6. Mix and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes.
Add Herbs and Seasonings
7. To the pan or skillet add the following ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- ¼ cup of chopped fresh basil
- ½ teaspoon of dried oregano
- salt as needed
- 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes (can omit)
- ¼ teaspoon of black or white pepper
8. Add ½ cup of red wine and ½ cup of water or vegetable stock. Use a good quality wine as this will greatly influence the flavor of the dish.
TIP: If you prefer not to use alcohol you can substitute with an additional ½ cup of either water or vegetable stock. You can easily replace red wine with white wine.
9. Mix well.
10. Cover and simmer the sauce for 30 minutes on medium-low heat.
11. Check the pot or pan every few minutes, stir, and add a bit more water ¼ cup at a time if the sauce is cooking down too quickly and sticks to the pan.
12. Once the bolognese sauce is done and thickened, turn off the heat and set it aside.
13. You can get the spaghetti started as the mushroom bolognese sauce is covered and cooking.
Bring 5 cups of water with 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium to large pot or pan. Place the spaghetti in the hot boiling water.
14. Cook the pasta on medium to medium-high heat according to package directions, until the spaghetti is al dente.
15. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water and set aside. Then strain the cooked spaghetti in a colander. Do not rinse.
16. Add the drained spaghetti to the mushroom bolognese sauce.
Make Spaghetti Bolognese
17. Use tongs or a pasta scoop to toss and thoroughly coat the spaghetti. If the sauce looks too thick you can add some of the reserved pasta water, and continue to gently mix.
If you prefer, load the plain spaghetti into a bowl or onto a plate first, and then top with the bolognese sauce.
18. Enjoy spaghetti bolognese warm for a filling lunch or dinner.
- Serve homemade vegetarian pasta bolognese with fresh basil on top for an extra pop of flavor.
- Grate on some parmesan cheese (dairy or vegan-friendly).
- Enjoy with a green salad and warm bowl of soup on the side for a complete meal.
Store leftover mushroom bolognese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 to 2 days.
Reheat by sautéing gently in a skillet or frying pan adding a bit of water to loosen the spaghetti and sauce.
If you have served the bolognese sauce separately, refrigerate the sauce for 3 to 4 days. While serving, warm or heat the sauce adding some water if needed.
- Tomatoes: For the bolognese sauce, I suggest to add tomatoes that are ripe, red, sweet and not very sour or tangy. You can swap canned tomatoes or Italian whole tomatoes with juice in place of fresh tomatoes. Simply crush the tomatoes before adding.
- Tomato paste: Though tomato paste gives some depth to the sauce, you can skip if you do not have it.
- Mushrooms: While I prefer to add button mushrooms, you can add cremini or shiitake mushrooms.
- Herbs: Swap dried herbs with fresh herbs. To sub fresh basil, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried basil.
- Add ins: You can add some cream to the sauce to bring some richness to the dish. While serving if you prefer you can opt to grate some vegetarian parmesan cheese.
- Wine: Use a good quality red wine as this contributes majorly to the taste.
- Spiciness: My spaghetti bolognese recipe is spicy and if you are sensitive to pungency or heat, then reduce or omit the red chili flakes.
Spaghetti, penne pasta, tagliatelle, fettuccine, bucatini, linguine, rigatoni, ziti are some options that work well.
While my recipe does not use any thickener and the sauce gets reduced and thickens by slow simmering – you can opt to use corn starch slurry to thicken your bolognese sauce.
Yes you can add some cream in the sauce for added richness and to balance the tanginess of tomatoes.
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Spaghetti Bolognese (Vegan)
For bolognese sauce
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup finely chopped onions – 60 grams or 1 medium sized
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic or 2 small to medium-sized
- ½ cup finely chopped carrots – 75 grams or 1 small to medium carrot
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped celery
- 3 to 3.5 cups button mushrooms – rinsed or wiped and sliced – 250 grams
- 3 to 3.25 cups finely chopped tomatoes – 400 grams or 4 to 5 medium-sized
- ¼ cup chopped basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste – optional
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes or cayenne pepper or red chili powder
- ½ cup red wine
- ½ cup water or vegetable stock
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper or black pepper, add as required
- salt as required
For cooking spaghetti
- 5 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt or as required
- 250 grams spaghetti
- 9 to 10 basil leaves
Making mushroom bolognese sauce
- Heat olive oil in a pan or skillet.
- Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic.
- Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes on medium-low heat until onions soften.
- Add the chopped or sliced button mushrooms.
- Mix and sauté until all water evaporates from the mushrooms.
- Add the finely chopped tomatoes.
- Mix and sauté tomatoes for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add tomato paste, basil, oregano, salt, red chili flakes and white or black pepper.
- Add wine and water or vegetable stock.
- Mix and combine thoroughly.
- Cover and simmer for 30 minutes on low to medium-low heat.
- Check the pot or pan every few minutes, stir, and add a bit more water ¼ cup at a time if the sauce is cooking down too quickly and sticks to the pan.
- When the sauce has thickened and done, set it aside.
- You can begin to cook the spaghetti when the sauce is covered and simmering. Boil water with salt in a pan.
- Place the spaghetti gently in the hot boiling water.
- Cook spaghetti on medium to medium-high heat according to package directions, until the spaghetti is al dente.
Making mushroom spaghetti bolognese
- Strain the spaghetti in a colander reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.
- Add the cooked spaghetti to the prepared bolognese sauce. Mix thoroughly. If the sauce looks thick you can add some of the pasta water to thin it and mix again
- Mix and serve hot or warm.
- If you prefer, place the plain spaghetti into a bowl or onto a plate first, and then top with the bolognese sauce.
- Serve homemade vegan bolognese pasta with fresh basil on top for an extra pop of flavor.
- You can grate on some parmesan cheese (dairy or vegan-friendly).
- Or you can enjoy with a green salad and warm bowl of soup on the side for a complete meal.
- Store leftover mushroom spaghetti bolognese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 to 2 days.
- Reheat spaghetti by sautéing gently in a skillet or frying pan adding a bit of water to loosen the spaghetti and sauce.
- If you have served the bolognese sauce separately, refrigerate the sauce for 3 to 4 days. While serving, warm or heat the sauce adding some water if needed.
- Tomatoes: Add tomatoes that are ripe, red, sweet and not very sour or tangy. If you are out of fresh tomatoes, swap with canned tomatoes or Italian whole tomatoes with juice. Crush the tomatoes before adding.
- Tomato paste: You can skip tomato paste if you do not have it.
- Mushrooms: In place of button mushrooms, add cremini or shiitake mushrooms.
- Herbs: You can easily swap dried herbs with fresh herbs. To replace fresh basil, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried basil.
- Add ins: Add some cream to the bolognese sauce to bring some richness to it and balance the tanginess. When serving if you prefer you can grate some vegetarian parmesan cheese or vegan cheese.
- Wine: Use a good quality red wine as this contributes majorly to the taste. Include white whine if you do not have red wine. If you choose not to use alcohol you can substitute with an additional ½ cup of either water or vegetable stock.
- Spiciness: My recipe is spicy recipe. If you are sensitive to pungency or heat, then reduce or omit the red chili flakes.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
This spaghetti bolognese recipe from the blog archives (February 2013) has been republished and updated to a better classic recipe with newer photos on 4 March 2021.