The comforts of a hearty bowl of pasta with a few nutritious swaps makes this mushroom walnut vegan bolognese the perfect Meatless Monday staple. The combination of hearty mushrooms, decadent walnuts and noodle-like strands of spaghetti squash is close enough to the real Italian deal while still being light enough for a balanced meal. Bon appetit!
Italian night is one of the most popular cooking classes I host all year long. There’s just something about “healthy” Italian that people crave. It’s likely because when we think of Italian food, we think junk food. Pasta, pizza, gelato – these are all foods that don’t quite fit regularly into a nutritious lifestyle.
Related post: Roasted Vegetable Butternut Squash Tortilla Pizza
Take a trip to Europe, though, and you’ll notice you can eat all of the pasta, pizza and gelato you want and feel great. That’s because the quality of the food and ingredients are radically different than in the United States. Most foods are sourced locally from the surrounding communities, versus here, ingredients are sourced from all over the world.
Since we can’t expect to dine on pasta every night and get the same results as in Europe, let’s talk about a few healthy swaps that can be made for a more nutritious version.
There are several traditional noodle alternatives that I love. Pasta made from lentils is high on my favorites list because of the significant sources of fiber and protein in each bite. For a total noodle substitution, zucchini is fantastic during the summertime and spaghetti squash is a favorite during the Fall season.
For this mushroom and walnut vegan bolognese recipe, we’re going with roasted spaghetti squash. Feel free to use whatever you like! I find that spaghetti squash is a great healthy swap because it resembles the texture of noodles, is slightly starchy (which is the pasta we crave) and is full of nutrients.
Traditional bolognese is a meat-based sauce, but we’re putting a Meatless Monday spin on it. To keep a similar texture to bolognese, this recipe utilizes the heartiness of mushrooms and the decadence of walnuts.
Related post: Super Simple Kale and Walnut Pesto
If you’re looking to incorporate more meatless meals into your lifestyle, it’s important to keep umami (“savory”) flavors in your dish. This can be achieved by using ingredients that provide a depth of flavor such as mushrooms, nuts, warming spices, tomatoes and vinegar.
The simple swaps being made in this mushroom walnut bolognese is:
- Chopped mushrooms and walnuts for ground beef and pork
- Balsamic vinegar for sugar (Many recipes and jars of tomato sauce include added sugars to bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes. Instead, we’re using balsamic vinegar which has a natural sweetness to it, as well as umami-like flavor.)
- “Parmesan” made from cashews and nutritional yeast (a plant-based staple that provides a nutty/cheesy flavor, protein and a significant source of B vitamins)
Without further ado, pour a glass of red wine (for those antioxidants!), play some music and have your own healthier Italian night at home. This mushroom walnut vegan bolognese with roasted spaghetti squash is what’s for (Meatless Monday) dinner!Print
- 2 small spaghetti squash
- 2 Tablespoons avocado oil
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 16 oz. baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced or chopped in food processor
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 28 oz. can crushed organic tomatoes
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup basil, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- To prepare the spaghetti squash, cut off both ends and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds with a spoon. Sprinkle the squash with salt and pepper; drizzle with olive oil. Place the squash cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Place the squash in the oven and roast for about 35 minutes or until fork tender.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by heating olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots; sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, mushrooms and walnuts. Sauté until the mushrooms begin to brown, stirring frequently.
- Next, stir in the balsamic vinegar and crushed tomatoes and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- To make the vegan parmesan, add all of the ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until the cashews are ground to a mealy consistency. Set aside.
- To finish the spaghetti squash, shred with a fork. To serve, divide the spaghetti squash among four bowls and spoon the mushroom walnut Bolognese on top, followed by a sprinkle of the vegan parmesan and basil!
Keywords: pasta, italian, bolognese, healthy swap, gluten free, vegan, quick dinner, weeknight dinner, comfort food, spaghetti, spaghetti squash