I usually prepare Spaghetti Bolognaise at home for my hubby. Bolognaise is a very delicious pasta sauce traditionally made with minced meat (beef or lamb). Though I am happy to see him enjoy my Spaghetti Bolognaise with great fervor, I used to wonder how I can make a vegetarian version so that even I can enjoy the same flavours. And this is what I have come up with. Pretty close - well meat is always meat! But here I have replaced minced meat with finely chopped mushrooms which gives it a similar texture. And it tastes really good (Yea I form recipes, I cook, I eat and I say it is good. How nice of me :D).
Came across several veg versions for Bolognaise while browsing - in most recipes the meat is substituted with green or brown lentils. Wasn't sure if I would like the combination of lentils and pasta though it would be very nutritious. Finely chopped mushrooms definitely gives the sauce the grainy texture I was looking for. Also if you are not a big fan of mushrooms, don't worry as you will barely notice it in the dish (like my hubby!). Those of you who are wondering why I am talking about spaghetti when my recipe says Linguine, here's the thing: I went to buy spaghetti and bought home Linguine instead. Didn't notice any difference till I read the label :D Linguine is a lot like spaghetti but a bit flat and also they were much softer once cooked. So you can use either of these for this sauce. Addition of white wine enhances the flavour of this dish but you can always avoid it and still get a great sauce.
Here are few interesting facts about mushrooms, that you probably didn't know:
- Mushrooms are a group of fungi and the part that we eat is basically the 'fruit' of these organisms!
- Mushrooms grow from spores and not seeds.
- Mushrooms are low in calories, free from cholesterol and virtually free from fat and sodium.
- They are a good source of the essential minerals like Selenium.
- Mushrooms are considered as 'immuno - regulators' i.e. they have strong effects on our immune system and this property is being explored in the field of medical science.
- The addition of mushrooms in food contribute to the fifth taste sensation - Umami.
- Early Romans referred to mushrooms as the 'Food of the Gods'!
- Mushrooms can produce Vitamin D on exposure to sunlight or UV radiation.
Linguine 'Vege'naise: Recipe:
- Linguine - around 300gm
- Crushed tomatoes - 350 to 400 gm
- Garlic - 3 pods thinly sliced
- Red chilli flakes - 1/ 4 to 1/2 tsp
- Olive oil - a generous drizzle
- Onion - 1 medium finely chopped
- Celery - 1 stick finely chopped
- Button mushrooms - 200 gm finely chopped
- Herbs (like thyme and rosemary) - 1/4 tsp
- Salt and pepper to taste
- White wine - 2 to 3 tbsp (optional)
- Honey - 1 tsp
- Tomato paste - 2 tbsp
- Fresh basil leaves and Parmesan cheese to garnish
- Cook pasta as per the instructions on the pack. Make sure you add a generous amount of salt to the boiling water or else the pasta will be bland. Drain and set aside.
- Warm olive oil in a wok and add the garlic. Toss it gently till they turn golden brown (They should not be too brown as that will give an off flavour to the entire dish). Add the red chilli flakes. And fry for few seconds.
- To this add the finely chopped onion and celery. Saute till the onion is translucent.
- Add the minced mushrooms and keep stirring on high heat so that the water evaporates and the mushrooms are nicely fried.
- Add the white wine, if using. When you stir it on high heat the alcohol will evaporate leaving behind the unique flavour of the wine.
- Next add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for few minutes till becomes a good thick sauce. Add the herbs and honey. Do a taste test and adjust flavours to your liking.
- Combine the drained pasta with the sauce and toss it gently till each strain of pasta is well coated with the sauce.
- Tear up few fresh basil leaves and add it along with grated Parmesan cheese.