Get over lentil bolognese! This vegan bolognese sauce contains walnuts, tomato, tofu, and fresh herbs. We use this Vegetable Bolognese Recipe to Make Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese or as stuffing for dishes like Baked Polenta, Ravioli, or even empanadas.
You could also call it a Tofu Bolognese recipe because we achieved our desired consistency by playing with different proportions of crumbly extra-firm tofu for texture and walnuts for richness while adding healthy fats.
We chose walnuts for this vegan bolognese sauce recipe because they have a more prominent content of fat, which helps deliver the expected creaminess of a rich and fatty meat Bolognese, which usually comes from fatty meat cuts.
Walnuts are great for providing creamy textures in their raw state and making a high-protein vegan meal. For instance, you can simply blend them with basil or arugula, add some extra common ingredients, and get a creamy, flavourful, and preservative-free pesto.
On top of all the amazing flavor, this sauce is very nutritious, as it is high in protein, provided by the tofu, and it is also rich in vitamins and minerals provided by veggies like carrots and healthy celery.
- Raw Walnuts
- Extra Firm tofu
- Tomato puree (classic Italian passata, or marinara sauce)
- Basil leaves
Optional: red wine and/or tomato paste to make it richer. Plus kosher salt and black pepper to season.
See quantities and complete instructions in the recipe card.
Making this vegan bolognese sauce is straightforward; everything goes into one pot.
- Crumble the extra-firm tofu with your hands and reserve.
- Clean and chop your veggies. Dice the onion, shred the carrot, mince the garlic, and finely chop the celery.
- Blend the walnuts in a food processor, but not too much. We don’t want it to become a paste.
- Cook. In a medium-large saucepan or large dutch oven, add the oil. Set to medium-high heat, and add the garlic, followed by the onion. Stir until golden brown, and the onion looks translucent. Add this point, add the celery, followed by walnuts, stir fry for a minute, and add the crumbled tofu.
- Stir in the red wine. This is optional, but we think it adds depth to the flavor and makes the sauce color a deeper red because the tofu better absorbs wine’s color than the tomato’s puree. When you add the wine, you will notice that whatever might be sticking to the bottom of the saucepan will separate and become part of the sauce. This adds a lot of flavors, and it is called the Maillard reaction. This effect reduces the sugars present in the onion. You can choose to use tomato paste (extract) in replacement or in addition to the wine for a thicker and more red sauce.
- Add the Carrot. It should be shredded.
Stir in the red wine
Add shredded carrot
- Stir in the tomato sauce and finely chopped basil. Now lower the heat to medium-low. Keep frequently stirring to prevent the veggie crumbles from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Let the sauce cook for 30 minutes or until the desired consistency and flavor are achieved.
Stir in the red wine
Add shredded carrot
- Keep an eye out; you might want to add ½ cup of water if the sauce is too thick and the flavors are still not optional. This means more cooking is needed.
- Final seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately on cooked pasta. Use some pasta water to stir in the "meat" sauce.
🍝 What pasta to use
You can use this tofu spaghetti bolognese for Tagliatelle, Pappardelle, or even as stuffing for your Ravioli.
Time: If you are using your veggie Bolognese sauce for dry pasta, after 15 minutes have elapsed since you have added all the ingredients to the sauce, set the water to boil, add salt and a bay leaf, and then add the pasta. Cook as per package instructions.
In total, you need 5 minutes for your water to come to boil and roughly 10 minutes for your dry pasta to be ready (read the instructions on the package). Remember to add a tablespoon of salt to your boiling water.
Hint: Italians say that if you don’t add salt to the boiling water, your pasta will never be well-salted.
Fresh pasta typically needs from 3 to 5 minutes of cooking time; no more! That way, your pasta will be “al-dente.”
Pasta recommendation: although it is common to eat Spaghetti Alla Bolognese, if you want to be closer to the real Bolognese, as they eat it here in Italy, more specifically, in Bologna, choose Tagliatelle (which means cut pasta, Tagliare (verb) = to cut).
Tagliatelle, are like ribbons; they have a wider cut than the spaghetti but narrower than the Pappardelle. This allows more sauce to stick to a wider surface of your pasta, allowing you to have a more flavorful bite.
If you can get fresh pasta, even better. This is how to make easy Vegan Tagliatelle at home from scratch. It takes minutes.
You can adjust the thickness of the vegetarian Bolognese sauce for any recipe by simply adding ½ cup of water at a time while cooking. Then wait until the heat evaporates as much water as you want until you reach the desired consistency.
Spicy - add red pepper flakes (pepperoncini) to add a spicy note.
How do you add flavor to bolognese?
If you want to add some extra flavor, here are some suggestions.
You can add an organic vegetable broth cube and try some marjoram or oregano, garlic powder, and basil.
One that you would not think of but can add a very interesting note is a secret ingredient, and it will make your vegan bolognese taste as if it came straight from "la cucina della Nonna": Nutmeg. It really makes it taste like a traditional bolognese, definitely one of the best foods to eat in Italy, and also a super easy vegan sauce to make.
Just a pinch, but it will give your bolognese that special aromatic note.
🥢 How to serve
Normally you just put it on top of your cooked pasta and optionally add some olive oil and parmesan. We love topping it with our Homemade Vegan Parmesan cheese with a base of walnuts and nutritional yeast or a base of sunflower seeds, which makes it cheaper.
You can also mix it before serving to make things easier in a family setting.
- Nuts - if you have a nut allergy, you can substitute the walnuts for the same weight as extra-firm tofu.
- Herbs - feel free to change basil for oregano. It is a matter of personal taste. I tend to use more dried oregano for this easy vegan bolognese sauce as stuffing for empanadas or polenta.
- Crushed tomatoes - you can use tomato canned tomatoes instead.
- Tofu - you can use your favorite vegan mince, soy curls, or mock meat.
- Pasta - use gluten-free pasta for a gluten-free pasta dish. You can also serve it with spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles.
Leftover bolognese sauce freezes and thaws very well. We love making it in large quantities because we use it for many other recipes.
Simply store the tofu pasta sauce in an airtight container and keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw, leave it in the refrigerator the night before using it. You will notice that after thawing, there will be liquid at the bottom, don't worry; it will be incorporated back into the sauce as you reheat it.
📚 More Veganized, delicious vegan recipes
- Vegan Stuffed shells
- Pasta alla Puttanesca
- Risotto Alla Milanese
- No-fry Vegan Eggplant Parmesan
- 5-minutes vegan pesto
⭐ If you try this vegan bolognese pasta recipe, let us know! 💬 Leave a comment, rate it, and don't forget to tag us @ourplantbasedworld on Instagram. Cheers!
Vegan Bolognese Sauce Recipe (Tofu Bolognese)
- Crumble the extra firm tofu with your hands and reserve.
- Clean your veggies. Wash your veggies throughly under running water.
- Chop your veggies. Dice the onion, shred the carrot, mince the garlic, and finely chop the celery.
- Blend the walnuts on a food processor, but not too much. We don’t want it to become a paste. Alternatively you can finely chop them on a cutting board.
- Cook. In a medium-large saucepan add the oil and then set it to a medium-high heat and add the garlic, followed by the onion. Stir until golden, and the onion looks translucent. Add this point, add te celery.
- Incorporate walnuts and tofu. Continue with the blended walnuts, stir fry for a minute, and add the tofu.
- Add wine. This is optional, but we think it adds depth to the flavor and makes the sauce color a deeper red, as the tofu better absorbs wine’s color than tomato’s puree does. When you add the wine, you will notice that whatever might be sticking to the bottom of the saucepan un-sticks and becomes part of the sauce.
- Add the Carrot. Shredded.
- Add the tomato sauce and basil. Now lower the heat to medium-low. Keep stirring now and then. Let it cook for 30 minutes. Add tomato paste, for a richer sauce, as substitution or in addition to wine.
- Keep an eye; you might want to add ½ cup of water if too thick.
- Final seasoning. Salt and pepper to taste.
- If you are using your veggie Bolognese for pasta, after fifteen minutes from the moment you have added all the ingredients to the sauce, set the water to boil, add a tablespoon of salt and add the pasta. In total, you need 5 minutes for your water to come to boil and roughly 10 minutes for your dry pasta to be ready (read the instructions on the package). Remember to add a tablespoon of salt to your boiling water.
- Fresh pasta typically needs from 3 to 5 minutes of cooking time, no more! That way, your pasta will be “al-dente.”
You can adjust the thickness of the vegetarian Bolognese sauce for the recipe you are using, simply adding ½ cup of water at a time while cooking and wait until the heat evaporates as much water as you want.
🌡️ Food safety
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking points to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice. See our full Nutritional Disclosure here.
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