This vegan Bolognese is full of familiar, comforting flavors – The Washington Post

Well, a recipe that uses the former got me to reexamine my thinking about the latter. And maybe it can do the same for you, whether you’re a fan of both or neither.

Let’s take tempeh. It can seem mysterious if you haven’t cooked with it before, and in its raw state it’s perhaps not too pretty (at least in some beholders’ eyes). But it’s a nutritional powerhouse, and when you know how to cook it (just like with anything, really), it can surprise you with its versatility.

Here, you grate it, brown it and combine it with a lot of garlic, plus onion, tomatoes and wine for a vegan take on Bolognese sauce that comes together much more quickly. It absorbs the flavors of the sauce, and believe me, you don’t take a bite of this and think, “Is that tempeh?” You think, “Yum.”

Next up: spaghetti squash. My colleague Becky Krystal recently wrote a piece about being more open to learning how best to use it, and I stumbled on a technique that changed my mind: You roast it at fairly high heat, with no need for the typical water in the roasting pan, and it keeps the squash drier, which better concentrates its flavor.

For this dish, you shred it for a pasta-like base for the tempeh Bolognese, but I won’t fault you if you want to put the sauce on anything else you’d like: pasta, of course, or polenta, or mashed or roasted or baked potatoes.

This, then, is really two recipes in one. Pick and choose: One, the other — or both.


  • 1 large (2 1/2-pound) spaghetti squash
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, divided, plus more to taste
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • One (8-ounce) package tempeh, grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 1 medium yellow onion (about 10 ounces), finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • One (28-ounce) can no-salt crushed tomatoes or tomato puree (3 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped

Step 1

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

Step 2

Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, and scrape out and discard the seeds (or save them for roasting). Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and place, cut-side up, on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast for about 40 minutes, or until the squash feels soft when pressed. When the squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the stringy flesh into a medium bowl.

Step 3

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the tempeh and saute until it starts to turn dark gold, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pan, 8 to 10 minutes. (The tempeh will quickly soak up the oil; that’s okay.)

Step 4

Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the onion and 1 teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the red wine and deglaze the pan by scraping off all the stuck-on bits on the bottom and sides of the pan. Let the liquid simmer until it is nearly evaporated, about 4 minutes.

Step 5

Stir in the tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium, cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce darkens and thickens and the flavors meld, about 20 minutes. Taste, and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Stir in the basil and serve over the roasted spaghetti squash.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 402; Total Fat: 21g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 819mg; Carbohydrates: 48g; Dietary Fiber: 10g; Sugar: 17g; Protein: 16g.