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I recently enjoyed a wonderful dish of pasta with Bolognese sauce at a friend’s home for dinner. The meat sauce was simmered for hours.
As I enjoyed every mouthful of the meaty sauce, it got me thinking, “Could you achieve that same depth of flavour using just vegetables?”
I set out to give it a shot. In addition to onion, carrot and celery, I added some chopped cauliflower florets. Canned diced tomatoes brought all the ingredients together nicely and I finished it with the unusual addition of miso paste that I dissolved in a bit of the hot pasta water.
Miso offers that rich “umami” flavour. It’s made from fermented soy beans and is available at Asian markets. It is, however, also starting to make an appearance on grocery store shelves. Choose a miso that is light in colour.
This vegetarian dish is a nice change of pace.
Pasta with vegetable sauce
2 tbsp. (25 ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. (25 ml) butter
1 onion finely diced
2 cups (500 ml) of chopped cauliflower florets
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 stalk of celery finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. (25 ml) tomato paste
1 – 28 oz. (796 ml)can of diced plum tomatoes
1 lb. (500 g) short pasta of your choice
1/4 cup (50 ml) chopped fresh basil
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 tbsp. (15 ml) light miso
Parmesan cheese for serving
1. Heat oil and butter in a large saute pan or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until starting to soften.
2. Add in cauliflower, carrot, celery, garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Stir in the tomato paste and cook a further minute.
4. Add tomatoes and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until all vegetables are very tender. Stir in basil and red pepper flakes to taste.
5. While the sauce is finishing cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente.
6. Reserve 2 tbsp. (25 ml) of hot water pasta and add it to the miso. Stir until smooth. Add this mixture into the pasta sauce. Season with additional salt if needed.
7. Drain pasta. Toss with sauce and transfer to a warmed pasta bowl.
8. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and serve.
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