Veggie Spaghetti Sauce (or Bolognese Veggie-Style)
This is an excellent veggie-version of a 'simmer-all-day' spaghetti meat sauce. The vegetables are finely minced and as they cook, take on the appearance and texture of cooked ground meat in the sauce. Use of a food processor to prepare the vegetables is a big help, but not necessary. Don't let the long list of ingredients discourage you from trying this sauce, it is delicious and well worth the effort.
2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon anise or fennel seeds, crushed
2 large bay leaves
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, finely minced
2 large carrots, pared and finely minced
8 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
1 large red or green bell pepper, finely minced
2 large celery ribs, finely chopped
6 small zucchini, finely minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed Roma tomatoes, undrained
3 cups water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
12 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced*
Premium Spaghetti pasta, cooked al dente according to package directions
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling (optional)
- In small bowl combine the basil leaves, oregano leaves, anise or fennel seeds and bay leaf; set aside.
- Prepare the garlic, onion, carrot, bell pepper, celery and zucchini; Set aside. (If you have a food processor, using it will speed things up and be easier. Be careful not to over-process.)
- In a large cooking pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add onions. Cook onions until they begin to soften, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally, to caramelize the onions. This is one of the most important elements of this sauce, it's the source of its rich flavor. Caramelizing onions correctly requires patience, rushing it produces an inferior bitter taste. After 1 hour cooking time, add the carrots and caramelize them together with the onions.
- Add the garlic and cook over medium heat for one minute, stirring constantly, then add the reserved spice mixture, cooking and stirring for 30 seconds.
- Add the tomato paste and cook about 2 minutes while stirring constantly. Add the remaining prepared vegetables and continue to cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, water, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, salt, pepper and the parsley leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for at least 3 to 4 hours.
- Add the sliced mushrooms to the sauce about 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, or if you prefer your mushrooms cooked limp, add during the last 2 hours cooking time.
- To serve, ladle the sauce over hot cooked pasta and top with a sprinkling with the Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
*Or use canned mushrooms.