Say hello to this hearty vegetarian bolognese for your next meat-free day or meal. Packed with lots of roasted pumpkin (deliciously caramelised on the outside) and other good veggies, this ain't your regular classic spag bol.
This is a feel-good, healthy, planet-friendly spag bol that is absolutely yum.
Don't worry! Just because this is vegetarian doesn't mean that flavour has been compromised! On the contrary, this is mouthwatering, seconds-please delicious.
Right. Let's get to it!
- Pumpkin either kent or butternut pumpkin works well for this recipe. Bear in mind, butternut pumpkin is a little sweeter than kent. Butternut's skin is a little tougher than kent too.
- Mushrooms button or portobello are both okay.
- Worcestershire sauce is a flavour bomb. It adds depth of flavour and the acidity (together with tomatoes) helps balance the sweetness of the pumpkin. Traditionally, Worcestershire sauce is made of vinegar, molasses, tamarind, anchovies, salt, sugar and bunch of other flavouring ingredients. Now, vegetarian/vegan Worcestershire sauces are widely available at major supermarkets. Substitute: balsamic vinegar.
Here's how you make it
First thing - Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F fan-forced.
- STEP 1. Roughly cut pumpkin up into 3 cm/1 inch chunks, season with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Pop onto a lined tray and into the oven for 30 minutes. Tip: Leave the skin on. Pumpkin skin is perfectly okay to eat and full of fibre. It'll soften throughout the cooking process.
- STEP 2. Whilst pumpkin is roasting, add diced onions and carrots into a heavy-based, deep pan/pot with some olive oil. Cook on medium-low heat until soft. About 8 minutes.
- STEP 3. Add minced garlic and sliced mushrooms into the pan. Saute on high heat for 2 - 4 minutes or until mushrooms are soft. Season with a little salt and pepper.
- STEP 4. Mix in canned tomatoes, veggie stock, dried thyme, Worcestershire sauce. Bring up to boil then reduce heat to low and simmer (without lid) for 10 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust for salt and pepper if required.
- STEP 5. By now, the pumpkin should have been roasting for about 25 minutes. Turn the heat up to 220°C/430°F and roast for further 10 minutes. Continue to simmer the pot of tomato/veggie sauce.
- STEP 6. The pumpkin should now be caramelised/brown on the outside and soft on the inside. Add it into the pot of simmering goodness and mix thoroughly. The pumpkin should full apart very easily and melt into the sauce. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Taste for seasoning.
To serve, mix cooked spaghetti with this vegetarian bolognese sauce.
Optional: garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Add cheese for extra creaminess
Roasted pumpkin gives this veggie spag bol. a rich, creamy texture. It attaches to the spaghetti pasta really well (like the picture below) and a great vegan pasta dish on its own. Assuming you're using vegan Worcestershire sauce or swapped it for balsamic vinegar.
But! To take things to the next level - cheese. Mix some shredded cheese just before serving for that extra creamy and stringy cheese factor (vegetarian).
If you're after a mild cheesy flavour, go for some mozzarella cheese. Otherwise, the balanced parmesan, cheddar & mozzarella combo never disappoint!
Tips for roasting pumpkin
If you want a tray of perfectly roasted crunchy potatoes, it's important to space them out and roast on high heat.
This is no different for roasting pumpkins. To get the most out of roasted pumpkins, you want the outer layer to get all brown and caramelly. This is where the best flavour is at.
The trick to perfectly roasted pumpkin (not soggy) everytime
- Cut into rough chunks - about 1 inch/3 cm cubes. This maximises surface area for caramelisation in the oven
- Roast on high heat - 200°C/400°F fan-forced. If pumpkin is not caramelising/browning enough, crank the oven up to 220°C/430°F to make sure it does.
- Don't overcrowd - make sure there is a little space in between each pumpkin piece. Do not have any overlapping.
- Coat with a little olive oil, salt and pepper
Roasted pumpkin adds an incredible creamy texture and sweetness to this veggie bolognese. The acidity in the canned tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce perfectly balances the sweetness of the pumpkin. Combined with sauteed mushrooms and other vegetables, this bolognese is just packed with layers upon layers of flavour!
Love pasta? Here's more!
- Classic spaghetti bolognese - hearty and delicious
- Healthy-ish chicken and broccoli pasta - creamy but not heavy
- Easy garlic prawn pasta - 15 minute tangy pasta!
- Creamy chicken and mushroom pasta - proper comfort food
Thank you for checking out my recipes! Let me know what you think and/or if you have any questions, drop me a note in the comments section below. 🙂
- 200 g / 7oz mushroom button or portobello, thickly sliced
- 1 can tomatoes 400ml/12oz, diced or whole
- 1 carrot finely diced
- 1 onion brown, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 tsp worcestershire sauce substitute: balsamic vinegar (note 1)
- ½ tsp dried thyme or other preferred herbs such as oregano
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Pumpkin roast ingredients
- 800 g / 1.8lb pumpkin kent or butternut both okay
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 500 g / 1lb dried spaghetti or other preferred shapes
- optional: fresh basil leaves
- Preheat oven to 200°C/400°C fan-forced.
- Roughly cut pumpkin, skin-on, to 3cm/1in cubes. Toss with remaining roast pumpkin ingredients on a lined baking tray. Roast for 30 minutes. (note 2)
- In a large, deep pan/pot, add 2 tbsp of olive oil, onions and carrots. Cook on medium-low heat until soft. About 8 minutes.
- Add mushrooms and garlic. Saute on high for about 2 - 4 minutes or until mushrooms softened. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Pour in tomatoes, vegetable stock, dried thyme, worcestershire sauce. Mix well, bring up to boil. If using whole tomatoes, break apart with a spatula. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Lid off, mix occasionally.
- By now the pumpkins would have been roasting for about 25 minutes. Turn the oven to 220°C/430°F fan-forced. Roast for an additional 10 minutes. This will ensure browning/caramelisation of pumpkins.
- Once the pumpkins are roasted to perfection and had 35 minutes in the oven, tip into the simmering pot of tomato veggie sauce.
- Mix thoroughly. Pumpkins should break apart very easily and thicken the sauce. Simmer for an additional 5 or so minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust for seasoning if necessary.
- Spaghetti: cook according to packet instructions whilst the bolognese is simmering away. Don't forget to salt the pasta cooking water!
- To serve, mix spaghetti with the vegetarian bolognese thoroughly and garnish (optional) with fresh basil leaves. (note 3)