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