Spaghetti Bolognese is one of the most popular dishes among German children. Every family has their own way of preparing it, from picking up a ready-made spice-mix in an envelope at the supermarket to making their own tomato sauce from scratch or using ketchup instead of canned tomatoes. I used to love to eat Spaghetti Bolognese when I was little, but when I decided to become a vegetarian shortly after I turned fourteen, I didn’t have any for quite a few years.
I’m not sure how I ended up stumbling upon mock mince meat made from soy (and some very artificial other ingredients) by Provamel, but it’s a staple in our kitchen ever since I did find it, probably ten years ago. I was very glad to learn that it’s gluten-free and that I could continue to eat it after I was diagnosed with celiac disease in April 2014. We buy this product at Alnatura or BASIC organic supermarkets, but I’ve also been able to buy it at METRO. A package containing 250g of mock soy meat will run you around EUR 2.50. My meat-eating guests of all ages and cultural backgrounds have all loved eating Bolognese sauce made with this mock mince meat, saying they would eat it again instead of a meat-based sauce. My husband loves it, too, and he literally asks me to make it for dinner for him every other day (which I don’t). I believe this mock mince meat is a good basis for a delicious sauce, but also that a lot of the magic happens when you spice the mock mince meat up prior to adding the tomato sauce, which you should also imbibe with lots of basil and olive oil. I love my canned tomatoes chunky (and thus don’t make an effort to cut the onions too finely), my husband prefers passata. I read an article in the New York Times last year about how it was a huge discovery in marketing, that some people preferred chunky pasta sauce, so I no longer hold it against my husband that he’s a bit anti-chunky tomato sauce. If you want particularly firm mince meat, I suggest freezing your mock mince meat made from soy before you prepare it.
This recipe is different from others on the blog in many ways, because I actually use processed ingredients, which I don’t usually. If I lived in Italy, where freshly grown and ripe tomatoes are available in abundance, I would never use canned tomatoes ever again. But since I don’t and sometimes feel inclined to cook a meal that’s really fast, plus would probably never be able to create a mock mince meat that is so firm and with such a pleasant texture, I do resort to buying tomatoes out of a can and mince meat made from soy from the shelves of an organic supermarket every once in a while. Also, it’s kind of hard to find gluten-free vegetarian burger patties, sausages and other products in that category, so this post is also for everyone who wants to continue on a vegetarian diet despite going gluten-free. It’s also for everyone who has little experience cooking and wants to try getting away from bland spices for this type of sauce sold by big corporations at the supermarket.
One word of advice: it is imperial that you use fresh or frozen basil. Don’t use the dry, tasteless stuff. It will come and haunt you in the form of a less than satisfying meal, I promise!
Ingredients (for four generous portions)
360g mock mince meat (made from soy – that’s two packages of the product I mention above)
800g canned tomatoes (chunky or not – whatever floats your boat!)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 to 3 garlic gloves, chopped or crushed
a generous dash of dry wine (red or white will do)
gluten-free vegetable broth powder
5 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp parsley, chopped – optional
salt and pepper
Turn on your stove and heat up a generous dash of olive oil in a large pan. Add the onions and the garlic, and fry for three minutes, stirring every once in a while to avoid burning. Add the mock mince meat. Add salt, pepper and chili flakes, the vegetable broth powder, the generous dash of wine, a tablespoon of basil and continue frying until the mock mince meat is crispy in part. Add the canned tomatoes and the rest of the basil (and parsley). Add a second generous dash of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, maybe a bit of vegetable broth powder as if you see fit. Turn down the heat and continue boiling Bolognese sauce. You may want to put a lid on your pan/pot as this part as the sauce will be very thick by now and splatter you with boiling hot sauce if you are not careful.
Meanwhile, prepare gluten-free spaghetti according to package directions and drain once they have been cooked al dente.
Arrange gluten-free spaghetti on a plate, top with Bolognese sauce and serve immediately.