cheat’s bolognese

you know how some days you go to make pasta with a simple tomato sauce, and as you’re frying an onion you discover that you’ve run out of tinned tomatoes? yeah. 

fortunately my frantic search turned up tomato paste and frozen soya mince (i knew that impulse purchase from tesco would pay off!), so i decided i’d do a bolognese sauce. mindful of the ‘perfect bolognese’ article i read in the guardian a few weeks ago (yes i know how bougie that sounds), i added a bit more margarine and commandeered some soya milk to mimic the dairy in a ‘true’ bolognese.

and it was awesome! plus i used yeast extract instead of nooch, so it’s easy to make with on-hand non-specialist ingredients. so without further ado, the recipe:

cheat’s bolognese
serves 4 adults
ingredients (just fyi, these are all approximate)
250g pasta
50g margarine
1 medium onion, sliced into thin rings
100g frozen soya mince
1/2 to 1 tsp yeast extract, such as marmite
2 Tbsp tomato paste
~1 Tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup unsweetened plant milk (i used soya)
salt and pepper to taste

method
put on the hob a large covered pan of salted water, with a slick of vegetable oil on top. while you’re waiting for it to boil, melt the margarine in a separate pan and fry the onion over low heat until softened.

once it’s all golden and yummy-smelling, add the mince and turn the heat up a little. fry for a couple of minutes until thawed, then turn heat back down. add the yeast, tomato paste, soya sauce, and vinegar, and mix well.

stir in the soya milk and bring to a simmer. by now hopefully your pasta water has boiled, so you can add the pasta to the pan. simmer the sauce for a few minutes, then take off heat while your pasta cooks.

before you drain your pasta, reserve about 1/3 cup of the cooking water. add this to the bolognese and bring back to a simmer. drain the pasta and return it to the large pan, stirring in the bolognese sauce. add salt and pepper, and serve while hot!

the white sauce grimoire

image

see this?  it’s called a roux, and it is your new best friend.

just by combining flour and margarine over the hob, you now have a magic thickener that enables you to turn a 59p carton of soya milk – or any other non-dairy milk, hell, even water – into a delicious white sauce that even your omni friends will love.

(apologies if you already know what a roux is, my tone is perhaps more condescending than strictly necessary.)

i’m going to give you my recipe for a basic, bare-bones white sauce, and then tell you how i fancy it up.  all measurements are for around 100g of pasta, or enough for two people.

image

oooooh lookie i did a mise-en-place! lol

basic white sauce
ingredients
2 to 3 Tbsp margarine
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp flour (can be gluten-free flour if you must)
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups unsweetened soya milk, or other non-dairy milk
1/3 cup nutritional yeast (if you don’t have any to hand, substitute with 1/2 to 1 tsp marmite.  but add more salt to get rid of that bitter aftertaste!)

method
1. melt the margarine over a low-medium heat.  add the salt and flour, and stir until combined into a paste – about one minute.

2. immediately add a splash of the milk and stir until the mixture is smooth.  add the yeast and stir.

3. gradually add the rest of the milk while stirring, until the sauce is smooth and well-mixed.

4. allow to thicken over the heat.  don’t worry if it boils – this is non-dairy milk!  add more milk for a thinner sauce.

5. take off heat.  sauce will thicken upon standing.

image

pictured: fancy chipotle mac

variations
bechamel – add 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp garlic granules, and possibly a bay leaf while on the heat

pepper sauce – bechamel + 1 to 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

mac’n’cheez – add 1/2 tsp garlic granules and 1 tsp cider vinegar

cheddar mac – mac’n’cheez + 1 Tbsp tomato passata (or 1 tsp paste)

chipotle mac – mac’n’cheez + 1 tsp chipotle paste (or 1 Tbsp chipotle sauce such as cholula), and 1 to 2 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander and a quarter of a lime added when the sauce is off the heat.  i also added avocado and vegan chorizo sausage to mine.

fondue – add 1 tsp garlic granules and 1/4 cup hard cider or beer

hollandaise – add 1/2 to 1 tsp mustard powder, 1/2 tsp garlic granules, and either half a lemon’s zest or a quarter of a lemon’s juice

lemon cream – add 1/2 tsp garlic granules and the zest of a whole lemon. smoked paprika is nice with this one too.

that’s what i got today.  stay tuned for why you really need to keep nutritional yeast around at all times!