Saturday 14 July 2007

Vegetarian Bolognaise – new life for leftovers

If you’ve seen my last few posts, you will see that I had a busy time of it last weekend with baking. So this week has been a low key week for cooking Leftovers have played a starring role. I have appreciated having my frozen macaroni cheese and also took my leftover chunk of nutroast from the freezer.

Once I had defrosted my nutroast, I decided to use it in one of the easiest and yummiest ways – a vegetarian version of spag bol. I also had some roasted fennel mixture in the freezer and in the fridge was a huge wedge of pumpkin which had been bought - but not used - for pizza on the weekend. One of the benefits of a day working from home meant I could work at the laptop while roasting chunks of pumpkin in the oven.

I grew up always eating a mincemeat bolognaise sauce with only two vegetables in it – onion and tomato (and maybe garlic). When I moved out of home, I remember finding it a revelation that one of my housemates made it with finely chopped carrots. Now I think the more vegetables the better.

This sauce is actually one that I have made many times in many guises, and rarely check recipes when I make it. Here are a few suggestions.
  • Onions - it can be made with or without frying onions in the oil first – sometimes I do and sometimes I just stir fry the onions in a little hot water before adding everything else. 
  • Tomatoes - tinned tomatoes, passata (sieved tomatoes), tomato paste.
  • Vegetables: Almost any vegetables can be added, but some of may favourites are mushrooms, carrot, capsicum, zucchini, pumpkin.  Other vegetables that work include celery, beetroot, fennel, eggplant, parsnip, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, spinach, leeks, sweet potato, and peas.  Leftover roast vegies are great.
  • Seasonings - I often use a balance of sweet and salty (eg maple syrup and soy sauce) but the seasonings depend on the sort of sauce I want and my mood: promite, vecon, tahini, mustard, chilli, soy sauce, stock, black pepper, pesto, lemon, red wine, herbs, smoked paprika, maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, French lavender salt.  A good meaty combination is red wine, seeded mustard and promite.
  • Protein (optional) - I also like to add a protein – nut roast is one of my favourites – when chopped up, it has the thickening qualities of mince (but without the gristley texture). I also sometimes put in lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, crumbled tofu or crumbled tempeh or any leftovers on hand.

A great way to get rid of leftovers and anything which has hung around the fridge or pantry too long. In fact I think I might chop up my frozen stuffed eggplants for a veg bol in the not too distant future.

The first night I made it, I served it on brown rice. I think it took me about as much time as it took for the rice to cook. On the second night we had it on pasta. Both nights cheese or nutritional yeast flakes were added to it. E and I agreed that this batch actually could have done with a bit more seasoning. I didn’t take photos til we had it as leftovers and I thought 'this is good enough for blogging'. So there are just some dodgy photos of it with pasta and then on toast with mozzarella.  (See Update at bottom of post.)

I am recording what I made this week but this is a moveable feast which changes each time I make it, depending on what is available and what mood I am in. It is not so much a recipe as a snapshot! But I thought it might be nice to share as it brought much comfort and goodness during a week when I am low on energy for cooking.

Vegetarian bolognaise sauce
Serves 6

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
200g mushrooms, sliced
500ml passata (or 1-2 tins of chopped tomatoes)
1 tbsp bush tomato spice mix
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Generous pinch salt
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1kg pumpkin roasted (I cut it into small chunks and roasted 2 hours at 200C with a drizzle of olive oil)
1 small tub of roasted veggies from the freezer (fennel, mushroom, pepper)
½ cup frozen peas
1 cup cooked, finely chopped nutloaf
1 tsp seeded mustard
Slurp of red wine
Grated cheese or nutritional yeast flakes to serve

Fry onion in oil a few minutes. Add mushrooms and fry a few more minutes. Add remaining ingredients except pumpkin and nutroast. Simmer 10-15 minutes til sweet potato is just tender. Add pumpkin and nutroast. Simmer another 5-10 minutes and serve over rice or pasta. Top with grated cheese or nutritional flakes. This sauce is great for lasagna too.

Update 13 July 2013 - Made this last night with carrots, mushrooms and leftover nut roast.  So I have updated the top photo because it makes this dish look more appetising than the previous photo.

On the stereo
Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man soundtrack: various artists


  1. I only I had some actually left over.

    We ate it all, and rather too quickly last time...will make it again soon and in a double quantity!

  2. Lucy - I think double the nutloaf recipe is an excellent idea - it can be used in so many wonderful ways - although there are days when I despair of using all our leftovers!

  3. This is absolutely delicious! The squash adds a lovely sweetness and creamy texture. It doesn't look anything special but is so tasty that it will definitely be my default for leftover nut roast. TheThanks so much for the recipe!


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