Before transitioning to a plant based diet one of my favorite comfort meals was a big bowl of turkey bolognese. It was a recipe that I had perfected over time, and one that was a sure fire bet when company came over.
I have spent a lot of time trying to replicate my old steady, and I finally got it down. Until becoming vegan, I had never heard of textured vegetable protein [TVP]. What is TVP? :: it is the by product of extracting soybean oil which creates a defatted soy flour product. Because TVP is extruded, it causes a change in the structure of the soy protein which results in a fibrous spongy matrix that is similar in texture to meat. It is relatively flavorless, and takes on the flavor of whatever it is rehydrated in. It has a texture almost identical to ground meat, and is relatively inexpensive. It has a very long shelf life before it is hydrated. In a nutshell… this stuff rocks!
I made this dish recently at a bookclub gathering I attented and it went over very well. Although I think people may have been nervous (it looks like meat, its not meat, what will it taste like?) once they tried it I got very positive feedback. I knew there were a few tweaks I wanted to make, but it was close.
When I had my parents over for dinner this week I decided to give it another go. I know that they both love pasta, and my dad who has been a tremendous sport about trying my often daunting meals (and I think actually enjoying them) loves Italian food, and a good Bolognese. Lets just say, he had seconds, and my mom took some for lunch the next day.
3 tablespoon olive oil
2 small onions , chopped
2 carrot , diced
4 garlic cloves , minced
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon thyme
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 to 1 cup good red wine
2 cup textured vegetable protein , not re-hydrated
4 tablespoons soy sauce (or Braggs liquid aminos)
2 cup vegetable stock
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes OR 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes + two jars of favorite tomato sauce
1/2 cup basil , chopped
1 lb whole wheat penne
In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Don’t add too much as you will be adding soy sauce later for color. Then add dry italian seasonings and crushed red pepper, if using. Add minced garlic and stir until fragrant. Next add the dry TVP, and stir to coat evenly with onion, carrot and spice mixture.Then add the soy sauce, which will give the TVP great flavor, and a bit darker color. Add the red wine and scrape the good bits off the bottom. Pan will be dry, so quickly add the cup of vegetable broth to rehydrate the tvp. Stir to coat all the tvp well, scraping the sides of the pan if needed.
Let simmer for a minute or two.
Next add your can of tomato paste, mix well and cook for a minute or two before adding the large can of crushed tomatoes. Add two jars of favorite tomato sauce – or another 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes. As sauce begins to bubble, be sure to stir in the tomato paste into the crushed tomatoes. Add chopped basil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for at least 30 minutes, or for several hours to develop flavor.
Cook whole wheat pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain pasta and place in large serving bowl. Top with bolognese sauce.