The history of Bolognese is long and conflicting. Can you guess why? Most of the food that seems like they’ve been around forever but don’t have a crazy amount of history on them tend to be “poor people food,” which typically never receives the same type of archival attention that food of the royalty does (that is, unless it was recorded in a cookbook from a few millennia earlier- à la apples and pork). The most common story surrounding the inception of “Bolognese” is that it a type of ragù- meat sauce- that originated from the city of Bologna, but there are also plenty of people who argue that spaghetti bolognese is a dish that was possibly created in Britain as no self-respecting Italian would serve a hearty sauce like ragù with a skinny noodle like spaghetti.
It can be a sign of the times that we’re fine with substituting a meat sauce with something plant-based. There is definitely a shift in parts of the mainstream population (or maybe just us) that are ready to embrace dishes that have a lightened approach to a comforting dish, whether that means a swap of veggies instead of meat, and in our case, even more veggies swapped out for the pasta. Tough week? Need something that feels steady and hearty, will kill your hunger but won’t leave you so in a carb coma so deep you can barely make it up the stairs? We have the answer!
You can bubble away a meat-based ragù for half a day with some recipes, but our bolognese is ready to go in an hour. Chef Jeff used a recipe of Penny’s that called for red lentils, which are a super-fast cooking type of bean. Just like a split pea they’re ready to go in just a couple of minutes, so you don’t need to fuss yourself about remembering to soak them overnight. Jeff also opted for our New York Pizza Sauce Seasoning seasoning that’s hand blended from basil, marjoram, savory, ground rosemary, ground thyme, sage, oregano and parsley. You could use our original Pizza Seasoning if you already had some on hand, but bear in mind you are also using some pretty strong flavors already in the sauce including garlic and balsamic vinegar- that particular blend has even more garlic, along with crushed red pepper flakes and onion, so make sure you taste as you go (which is a good tip for any recipe). If you’re not afraid of really kicking it up a notch, go for it! As far as the controversy over a spaghetti noodle being too wimpy for a Bolognese, we’ve never been afraid to break the rules a little- bring on the spaghetti squash, or the zoodles... Here at Spices Inc World Headquarters, we’re just crazy enough to try.
- Wash and trim the green leaves off the cauliflower. Cut the head in half, and remove the thick core parts from the center. Rough chop the cauliflower into smaller pieces.
- In batches, place some of the cauliflower in a food processor. Pulse until crumbly. Repeat until all the cauliflower is processed. It should look crumbly with a few tiny florets. You can also do this by hand if you don’t have a food processor.
- In a pot, heat olive oil to low. Add onions and cook until soft.
- Increase heat to medium, and add cauliflower. Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cauliflower will begin to lose its shape and turn golden. At the last minute of cooking, add garlic.
- Add the tomatoes, red lentils, balsamic vinegar, sugar, Pizza Seasoning, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
- Cover pot and bring sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove lid and cook for an additional 15 minutes. The cauliflower and lentils should be broken down and the sauce should have a thick consistency.
- Serve with spaghetti squash, zoodles, or pasta!