Spaghetti bolognese - tvp version (vegan)

09 January 2015

Towards the end of last year, we had visitors, including a 6-year old. One night, I made a lentil walnut loaf (this one), which the adults enjoyed, but I'm pretty sure she only ate it because her mum gave her a stern talking to about eating what other people prepare. The next night, I thought it would be nice to make something kid-friendly, no lentils in sight, preferably as indistinguishable from the real thing as I could make it.

Vegan spaghetti bolognese

It paid off. The "not hungry" little girl had one small serving, then a second. This was followed up by a third helping, minus pasta, during which she learned that there was no meat in the sauce, after which she followed up with another 2 small sauce-only serves. Win! I've made it several times since - it turns out that Hunter also enjoys the kid-friendly recipes quite a lot.

Spaghetti bolognese (TVP)

Serves: 4-6

  • 2-4 tablespoons light olive oil (not virgin)
  • 1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, grated (no need to peel)
  • 1 stick celery, trimmed, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
  • 1 1/2 cup TVP crumbles
  • 1 1/3 cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons beef style stock powder (I use Massel brand)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 140g tub tomato paste
  • 2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Italian herbs
  • small pinch chilli flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 500g thin spaghetti
  • Nutritional yeast to serve

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook onion, carrot, celery and garlic, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. 
  2. Meanwhile, mix the stock powder and liquid smoke into the hot water
  3. Add the dry TVP and stock mixture to the pot and cook over low to medium heat until water is completely absorbed.
  4. Add wine and cook until evaporated
  5. Add the tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, Italian herbs, chilli flakes, sugar and water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until thick. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to packet directions. A little bit of olive oil in the cooking water helps to prevent the spaghetti sticking together. Drain.
  7. Serve bolognese sauce atop pasta, with extra freshly ground pepper, and nutritional yeast if desired.
  • Originally, I prepared the "mince" first, removed it, cooked the onion mixture, and then added the "mince" back, but this is easier and there doesn't seem to be any perceptible flavour difference.
  • Cut back on the oil at your own risk, as TVP, unlike mince, doesn't contain any fat at all, and needs some added fat to make it taste right. You can probably use less oil than me though.
  • TVP can be bought from Indian grocers, and no doubt other places as well. It's much cheaper than frozen vegan "mince", and also lasts more or less forever in your pantry.
  • The amount of chilli I add isn't enough to give it any bite whatsoever, but it still lifts the recipe.

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