Lauren Toyota's vegan Ragu Bolognese is a hearty recipe to add to your fast pasta repertoire

Perfect for when you want to pile your pappardelle high with a meat-free sauce.

Perfect for when you want to pile your pappardelle high with a meat-free sauce

(Photography by Lauren Toyota)

Behold, a really easy, pretty quick pasta from recipe creator, Lauren Toyota — and it’s vegan. Featured in her latest book, hot for food all day: easy recipes to level up your vegan meals [A Cookbook], this version uses mushrooms in place of the ground beef traditionally used in this Italian dish. It features lots of ingredients you may already have in your pantry, is done in about an hour — and it may just earn a spot in your favourite pasta repertoire. 

Ragu Bolognese

By Lauren Toyota

Everyone has gotta have a good go-to bolognese recipe in their back pocket, and this is mine. A classic ragu bolognese is not a super tomatoey-saucy sauce, as it’s made with ground meat and its juices. I used mushrooms because they’re superior to meat and just as juicy! Sure, there’s usually red wine in the base of the bolognese, but I made the executive decision to not do that—you can also tweak this to your liking. It’s also traditional to use a flat pasta like pappardelle or tagliatelle, and you want to kiss and coat the noodles, not drown them in sauce!

Hot Tip: You can substitute 1 tablespoon of vegan Worcestershire for the vegan beef-flavored or mushroom bouillon base.


  • 1 white onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb cremini/baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 zucchini, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (2 or 3 large cloves)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ⅓ cup tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp vegan beef-flavored bouillon base or mushroom bouillon base or 2 cubes
  • ½ cup unsweetened soy or cashew milk
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 package (16 oz/454 g) pappardelle
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter
  • 1 cup shredded vegan Parmesan, divided
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Finely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)


In a large food processor, add the onion, carrot, and celery. Pulse blend until finely minced and set aside in a bowl. You should have 2 to 2 1/4 cups of this mixture.

Add the mushrooms and zucchini to the processor bowl. Pulse blend until finely minced and nearly a puree, then set aside in another bowl. You should have 4 to 4 1/2 cups of this mixture.

In a large cast-iron pan or Dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil and the onion, carrot, and celery mixture. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until shrunk to about half. Add the garlic and sea salt and cook for another minute. Add the mushroom and zucchini mixture and cook for 15 to 18 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it looks more brown than green or gray and most of the water has been cooked out and you really can’t distinguish the vegetables.

Add the tomato paste and bouillon base and cook for 3 to 5 more minutes, until it starts to caramelize. If you wanted to add in a splash of red wine, here’s where you would do it and just cook a little longer.

Add the soy or cashew milk and balsamic vinegar and deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits at the bottom. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for another 10 minutes or so while your pasta cooks.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and add it along with the vegan butter and 1/2 cup of the shredded vegan Parmesan to the sauce mixture. Stir to combine until the cheese is mostly melted, about 2 minutes, and then use tongs to add the cooked pasta right into the pot of sauce. Use the tongs to coat the pasta properly, 1 to 2 minutes, until heated through and all the Parmesan is melted.

Serve the bolognese topped with the remaining vegan Parmesan, black pepper, and parsley.

Yield: Makes 4-6 servings

Excerpted from hot for food all day by Lauren Toyota. Copyright © 2021 by Lauren Toyota. Published by Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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