How to Make the Best Vegan Bolognese

Before all these incredibly supernatural meat appetites hit the market, mushrooms were the lean workhorse of vegetarian and vegan cuisine. While new artificial animal proteins have pushed veggie burgers beyond the old “portobello between two buns,” I urge you not to forget about mushrooms as a meat substitute, especially if you’re looking for something to replace ground beef. …

Of anything that grows in the mud, mushrooms have the most meaty flavor, but given that the competition is leaves and roots, that really doesn’t say much. But the longer you cook them, the more flavorful they become, and if you grind them before cooking, the water will evaporate and they will turn into savory, crispy chunks that look like minced meat. (It’s almost creepy, actually.)

However, they still taste like mushrooms, which is obviously not bad, but it doesn’t quite get rid of the heart itch. If you want to nudge your mushrooms (and other vegetables) closer to the ominous valley and enhance the salty, savory umami flavor we associate with meat and meaty things, grab a Chinese olive vegetable.

This seasoning is not new, but it may be new to you, especially if your experience with olives is dictated by American and European cuisine. As the name suggests, it has been used in Chinese cooking for quite some time and, as you might not believe, increases the umami factor, eliminating the need for other savory ingredients. These olives are not pickled. Instead, unripe Chinese white olives take a long time to cook with mustard greens, creating a paste with a strong, savory and complex flavor. (If there is no good Asian market near you, you can order online . Some brands contain MSG , which I consider an added bonus.)

Unlike pure crystalline monosodium glutamate, which adds isolated amounts of umami, Chinese olive vegetables add an unusual nuance that reads “meaty.” When mixed with finely chopped, heavily roasted mushrooms, it produces a minced meat that’s perfect for tacos, stews, sloppy joe, or anything else you’d add minced meat to. This is easy to do, although it takes a little time as it takes time to remove all moisture from the mushrooms. I recommend making whole bundles all at once and storing them in the refrigerator for use as needed. To make this meatless miracle, you will need:

  • 2 pounds cremini or porcini mushrooms
  • 6 tablespoons butter or olive oil (you may not need it).
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese olive vegetables

Wash the mushrooms and use your hands to tear each mushroom into three to four pieces. Working in portions, add the mushrooms to the bowl of a food processor and chop into small but still recognizable pieces. Heat two tablespoons of butter or oil over medium to high heat in your largest stainless steel skillet. Once the oil starts to foam (or your olive oil is nice and hot), add one layer of mushroom chunks, stir everything and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the moisture disappears and the mushrooms begin to brown. (This will take at least half an hour.)

Continue cooking by scraping the browned mushroom off the pan with a wooden spatula. If things get too sticky, add more butter or oil. When all the mushrooms are browned and have a deep savory flavor (try it!), Transfer them from the pan to a bowl. Repeat as needed until you’ve worked through the pile of mushroom pieces. When you’ve cooked all the mushroom slices, add the Chinese olive vegetables and stir to distribute the seasoning evenly over the mushrooms. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to five days. I really love this product in tacos, but it’s also divine when stewed in a simple tomato sauce for a complex veggie stew.


Leave a Reply