Walnuts Are The Key To Hearty Vegan Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese sauce is famous for containing copious amounts of meats like skirt steak, pancetta, and pork shoulder. In fact, one might say that these ingredients are the star of the show. Even so, if you're vegan or just trying to lean away from consuming animal products, it's entirely possible to make a hearty, delicious, plant-based Bolognese. The key ingredient that will replace the meat: walnuts.

How can nuts substitute for skirt steak? They won't mimic the taste of the meat or the juices entirely, of course, but when blitzed in the food processor, walnuts can provide a size and texture that offers a mouthfeel similar to ground beef. Plus, they bring plenty of the fat that you'd normally get in meat — a 1 ounce serving of the nuts contains a whopping 18.5 grams of fat. In addition, the same amount of walnuts has 4.3 grams of protein, a nutrient that can help keep you feeling full and satiated. So, while you may be creating a meatless dish, we doubt you'll get up from the table feeling hungry or unsatisfied.

How to make a walnut-based Bolognese sauce

Like we mentioned, you're going to want to pulse your walnuts in the food processor to turn them into a ground beef-like consistency. Throw them in there with any spices you plan on using, like salt, pepper, and garlic. When you're pulverizing everything, make sure not to take it too far, or your nuts may turn out smoother than intended. Once finished, you can pour them in your tomato sauce. As an alternative, cook chopped walnuts with your sauce on the stove, and either use a full-size or immersion blender to get everything to your ideal consistency.

You can keep your recipe as simple as that, or you can combine the walnuts with a few other vegan elements to add more dimension to your dish. Mushrooms are a popular ingredient in plant-based Bolognese sauces due to their umami flavor and somewhat meat-like texture. To create a mushroom and walnut meat substitute, first blitz them separately in a food processor, then stir them together. You could also incorporate lentils (a good source of plant-based protein) by cooking them and stirring them in the sauce before you blend everything together. Whichever route you choose, you'll end up with a yummy, hearty, vegan Bolognese.