I was not a happy camper. I had been (quite literally) bitten in the face by the spring-cleaning bug and I was tackling that cupboard in the kitchen. You know the cupboard I’m talking about, the one you let go for months telling yourself it really isn’t that bad. You probably have one too…it has random pots, pans, bowls, lids that doesn’t seem to match anything, plastic containers, glass jars of all sizes (why is it that for the life of me I can’t part with a single glass jar?), all manner of kebab sticks, coffee pots (four Turkish coffee pots, two French presses, and one American drip coffee maker, to be specific), a Crockpot, half sheet pans, quarter sheet pans, serving trays, pizza stones, popsicle trays, extra ice cube trays, and a few other odds and ends.
And in my kitchen, the worst part about this cupboard is that its door is small but it’s very deep so I nearly have to crawl into it to reach the items in the back. Hence the splinter in my face, lol.
The good thing about this cleaning frenzy was that I was at least able to multi-task. I had a pot of Bolognese on the stove as I was working, and it made the kitchen smell divine. Sauce is one of those things that generally requires all afternoon to simmer so the flavors can come together. This one simmers for about an hour (which is faster than most, but still not a fast meal), but I was in the kitchen plugging along anyway so it really wasn’t any trouble to give the sauce an occasional stir. And at the end of the day’s work I got to sit down to a delicious meal.
The funny thing about this Bolognese is that the original recipe (Spaghetti with Pork Bolognese) has three different kinds of pork (ground pork tenderloin, ground pork, and pancetta), and Mike and I don’t eat pork at all. I omitted the pork and used five-grain tempeh for protein instead. (Of course, ground turkey, chicken, or beef would also be delicious…and maybe with turkey bacon instead of pancetta.) If you want to keep it vegetarian but bump up the protein even more, in addition to the tempeh you can add a can of rinsed, drained lentils (or any beans you like) or serve the sauce on top of quinoa.
Vegetarian Bolognese (Adapted from Cooking Light’s recipe for Spaghetti with Pork Bolognese)
Yields about 4 ½ cups of sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 medium-large stalk celery, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
8 oz 5-grain tempeh, crumbled
½ cup dry white wine
1 (28 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
1 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable stock
1 cup reduced-fat milk
5 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce*
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
Pinch ground cinnamon
1 (2 oz) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
Fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for topping
Chopped fresh parsley, for topping
Prepared noodles (optional; for serving)
*Look for vegetarian/vegan Worcestershire to keep this dish vegetarian.
Heat the olive oil in a 5-quart pot over medium heat; add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaves, and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook until the veggies are softened, about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the tempeh and cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Add the wine, turn the heat up to medium-high, and cook until the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to get up any brown bits that have formed (that’s where the flavor is!).
Add the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, diced tomatoes, vegetable stock, milk, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, and Paramigiano-Reggiano rind, and bring up to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer (uncovered) until thickened, about 45 to 60 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the bay leaves and cheese rind.
Serve the sauce on top of noodles, and sprinkle on a little Parmigiano-Reggiano and parsley, if desired.