This Hearty Vegetable Bolognese is a deliciously filling vegetarian recipe made with fresh vegetables, walnuts (trust me on this one!) and a splash of cabernet. Pair it with your favorite whole wheat spaghetti, zucchini noodles or penne pasta for a comforting meal at the end of a long day. Thank you so much to ALDI for sponsoring this post!
More than a handful of times I’ve shared my love for jarred marinara sauce on the blog. It’s complete blasphemy to many people out there, I know, but there’s no way I’m the only one out there who rarely makes her own pasta sauce because there are full grocery store aisles dedicated to selling tons of it. Right!?
Truth be told, I like (quality!) jarred marinara sauce a lot. I like the taste, the texture and, perhaps most importantly, the ease. I know, you’re not shocked. Me, use a shortcut to help make an easy recipe!? I mean it’s pretty much all I make around here so it’s pretty much all I share around here, too. Hopefully you’ve caught onto this by now and simply celebrate the fact that healthy food and healthy recipes do not have to be complicated or fancy. Simple is often best – at least for me – because I know that a recipe that takes under 30 minutes is way more likely to be made in our house on repeat than a complicated one that takes a ton of time to prepare.
So today I’m sharing a recipe that calls for jarred marinara sauce. I used ALDI’s SimplyNature Organic Marinara Pasta Sauce as the base and love the way the sauce is thick enough to coat noodles (or zoodles) and packed with garlic, basil and oregano, the flavors and spices I expect in a delicious marinara. Plus, like every product in ALDI’s SimplyNature line, it’s free of artificial ingredients and preservatives.
But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves! Because we’re always on a mission to eat more vegetables in our house, I wanted to add a bunch of vegetables to the sauce to make it heartier and almost meatier, but without the meat. I wanted to make the kind of sauce you find yourself craving the minute the weather outside begins to change and you find yourself reaching for a sweater or a sweatshirt in place of a breezy tee.
To try to mimic the texture of ground beef found in typical Bolognese sauce, I drew inspiration from a local plant-based restaurant (Living Kitchen, for any CLT locals!) that uses nuts rather than meat in many of their filling and delicious entrees and incorporated crushed walnuts into the sauce along with mushrooms, carrots, onions, bell peppers and olives. The end result was a heavenly semi-homemade hearty vegetable Bolognese sauce that the entire family loved! Truly this recipe is probably one of the best ones I’ve shared on this blog to date. Everything just kind of worked in this dish from the fresh veggies to the buttery walnuts and Italian seasonings. We absolutely loved this Bolognese and with so many different ways to use this sauce (I have visions of lasagna and baked penne pasta), I know this recipe will be one we make again and again.
Hearty Vegetable Bolognese
- 2 cups peeled, chopped carrots
- ½ cup chopped bell peppers
- 8 ounces fresh mushrooms
- 2 small yellow onions
- ¼ cup Specially Selected Kalamata Olives
- ¼ cup Outlander Cabernet Sauvignon
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 cup Southern Grove Walnuts
- 1½ teaspoons SimplyNature Italian Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Stonemill Sea Salt
- 1 25-ounce jar SimplyNature Organic Marinara Sauce
- Specially Selected Gruyere Cheese, for topping
- In a food processor, shred the carrots, bell peppers, olives, mushrooms, onions and garlic until they are shredded into very fine pieces.
- Drizzle a large, deep nonstick skillet with olive oil and heat to a medium-high heat. Add the shredded vegetables and allow them to cook down, as the water sweats out and they reduce in volume for about 5 minutes. Add the wine, reduce the heat and allow to simmer longer (approximately 7-10 minutes), until almost all of the liquid is gone.
- While the vegetables are cooking, place the walnuts, Italian seasonings and sea salt into the food processor and grind into a course meal, taking care not to over grind, as a paste will form.
- Add the walnuts to the skillet and stir.
- Add the marinara sauce and stir to combine. Simmer on medium-low heat for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve on top of whole wheat spaghetti, zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash or your favorite pasta and enjoy!
I bought everything I needed to make this recipe at ALDI, including organic vegetables (mushrooms, carrots, onion, mini bell peppers), SimplyNature Italian Seasoning, Outlander Cabernet Sauvignon (perfect in the sauce and in a glass along with your pasta), SimplyNature Whole Wheat Spaghetti, fresh basil, garlic and Specially Selected Kalamata Olives (they added the most deliciously salty, briny taste to the sauce). ALDI has quickly become my go-to spot for organic produce because it’s so darn affordable (often less than conventional produce at other grocers) and I love their SimplyNature line so, so much.
Of course I had to top my pasta off with freshly grated cheese before serving and used Specially Selected Le Gruyere cheese imported from Switzerland. The cheese is so rich and creamy and also served as the best savory cooking snack while I made this sauce! If you’re looking for a vegan sauce, simply leave this one out!
When it comes to shredding the vegetables in this sauce, I highly recommend using the shredding attachment on your food processor but if you don’t have one you may also shred vegetables using a standard box grater.
I really hope you guys love this sauce as much as we did in our house!
Question of the Day
What are some of your favorite cooking shortcuts?
I love using jarred pasta sauce or marinades, pre-chopped frozen vegetables and ginger paste in recipes.