Doesn’t this look like the real deal? I’ve become slightly obsessed, since the Mr became a vegetarian, at recreating the perfect ragu without meat. Lentils are nice but often to floury and strong in flavour, I’ve tried mushrooms before which are close, but nothing has come as close as this simple vegetable ragu. (Don’t even talk to me about soya mince).
Soffrito – onions, celery, carrot – is used at the beginning of many Italian sauces and stews, most for notably meat ragu. My ragu uses this basic trio as the bulk of the ragu, the fine texture resembles mince and the vegetables add their own flavour, as well as taking on flavour. It’s very easy to make and you’ll probably have the ingredients in your fridge anyway!
The addition of finely chopped dried mushrooms, lots of chilli, oregano and black pepper, along with a dash of soy sauce, will give you the savouriness you want from a ragu. Soy sauce is ridiculously handy to have if you’re vegetarian – it gives you richness, savoury depth and colour that you’ll normally need Worcestershire Sauce for.
Hope you love this recipe, it’s the closest I’ve got! Also works very well as a lasagne sauce, I’d recommend adding in another half tin of tomatoes and a splash of water to account for the lasagne absorbing some of the sauce.
- handful of dried mushrooms
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 1 stick of celery
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- splash of red wine
- 1 tin of plum tomatoes, blended
- spaghetti or linguine
- vegetarian parmesan or hard goat's cheese
- Soak your mushrooms in boiling water, once softened, chop finely and set aside.
- Cut the vegetables in to large chunks, and then in a food processor pulse until they are quite fine.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large, wide saucepan or frying pan and then add in the vegetables.
- Stir fry for 15 - 20 minutes until all the moisture in the vegetables has evaporated.
- Add the minced garlic and mushrooms and fry for another minute before adding the other ingredients.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes on a low heat. Season to taste.
- Serve with spaghetti and grated cheese.