Lightly roasted chickpeas and mushrooms form the “meaty” base of this simple and nutritious vegan bolognese / ragu style sauce. The rich chickpea sauce is easy to make, and it puts a healthy meatless spin on the family favorite spaghetti bolognese.
So I know that we use the term bolognese a little loosely here at the Happy Veggie Kitchen, because bolognese is supposed to be all meaty and this is decidedly not meat. But you know what, I am having fun making rich, tomatoey, bolognese / ragu style sauces with healthy ingredients.
This recipe is simple enough to make, but it does take a little time. (Have no time? Try this lentil spaghetti bolognese instead.)
Why you should try this chickpea bolognese
Because chickpeas are very healthy and protein packed, because everyone likes spaghetti bolognese, because you have an excuse to open a bottle of red wine, and because you need proof that you don’t need meat to make an excellent and tasty ragu.
Other chickpea bolognese sauces out there use whole chickpeas in the sauce, but I’ve gone to the effort of roasting my chickpeas alongside some roasted mushrooms and blitzing them in the food processor to form a “mince”.
The texture holds up because roasting the mushrooms and chickpeas makes them tough and dry enough not to just melt into the sauce.
In the past, if I wanted that chunky, durable mince texture I would just reached for a bag of faux meat, so this has been a breakthrough for me. Now I just need a can of chickpeas and a pack of mushrooms. Cheaper, healthier, and tastier! Win win win.
How to make your chickpea bolognese
There is a printable recipe card to follow, but I’ll just give you a few visuals here first to help you on your way.
First, you’re going to make the vegetarian “minced meat” by roasting chickpeas and mushrooms and then pulsing them in a food processor.
We are roasting the chickpeas and mushrooms because that gives them a chewy, firm texture so that they stay a little chunky in the sauce. Don’t skip this step!
We then use our “meat” to make a chunky sauce with additional mushrooms, onions, garlic…
… tomato paste …
… red wine…
… and canned tomatoes…
And then we let it simmer for a little while, before serving with pasta.
Best. Dinner. Ever.
Best Ingredients and Add Ins for the Perfect Vegan Bolognese
As I mentioned in my last bolognese recipe, it’s quite important to get the ingredients right when you’re making a vegan bolognese.
Ingredients like chickpeas don’t bring flavour to the sauce like meat does. You need to infuse them with the flavour.
In this recipe, the roast mushrooms + the red wine in the sauce go a long way to doing this.
But you can go further! I have made this basic and easy, but bolognese sauces are so customizable, and once you’ve perfected your chickpea “mince” you can really make this your own.
Some delicious add ins to this bolognese might include:
- Red pepper flakes, if you like to add a lil’ kick to things
- Some truffle oil really elevates the mushroom flavor
- Sundried tomatoes or roasted red peppers add a lovely richness
Roasted Chickpea Bolognese
- 300 g (10.5 oz) spaghetti, for serving
For the chickpea mince
- 400 g (14 oz) can of chickpeas
- 250 g (8.8 oz) portabella mushrooms
- 3 tsps mixed Italian herbs
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
For the bolognese sauce
- ½ medium white or brown onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 250 g (8.8 oz) additional mushrooms, (chestnut, more portabellas, any type is fine)
- 4 Tbsp tomato paste / puree
- 180 ml (¾ cup) Red wine
- 400 g (14 oz) can of whole plum tomatoes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat the oven to 200C / 400F.
- Arrange chickpeas and sliced portabella mushrooms on a large oiled baking tray. Brush or spray with oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and Italian herbs.
- Place in the oven for 20 minutes, until the chickpeas are golden and the mushroom is cooked and has a "meaty" texture.
- Allow the chickpeas and mushrooms to cool for 10 minutes or so.
- Once cooled, pulse the chickpeas and mushrooms in a food processor until they are finely minced, but chunky.
- In a large saucepan, saute your onions until they are starting to brown a little. Add the chopped chestnut mushrooms and garlic. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and the mushrooms are reduced.
- Add the minced chickpea mushroom mixture and cook for a couple of minutes until everything is mixed together. Add tomato puree and mix that through. The mixture will be a little sticky.
- Add the wine and let it bubble for a couple of minutes. Finally, stir in the canned tomatoes. Simmer the sauce lightly, stirring often, for 15 minutes or longer. Season to taste.
- Serve over pasta.