The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

smoked tofu and mushroom Bolognese

Happy new year!

More people than ever have chosen to give Veganuary a try this year. Others, who perhaps aren’t quite ready to take that step, will at least have resolved to reduce their meat intake.

It’s encouraging to see so many people willing to challenge and change their food consumption habits, whether it be for health, environmental or ethical reasons, or all three.

Sadly, world governments continue to show little similar willingness to change their bad habits.

Unsustainable farming practices – the continued growth of the meat and dairy industries in particular – continue to be heavily subsidised by governments at the expense of the rest of us, including those who farm sustainably.

A recent report revealed that 99% of worldwide farming subsidies goes to support farmers engaged in high-emission cattle production, excessive use of agrochemicals and deforestation.

If those subsidies were redirected instead towards a transition to a healthier agricultural regime, they would simultaneously help to tackle climate change. Cultivating organic soil and planting trees, for example, are effective ways to capture and store carbon. In addition, we would all have the benefit of a supply of healthier food and a better diet.

The way the world’s food system currently operates is not only unsustainable, it is propelling us rapidly towards climate disaster.

Changing the way we eat is the biggest single contribution we can make at an individual level. Less demand for meat and more demand for organic produce will help force change.

Since our governments won’t do it, it’s down to us.

As the name would suggest, the famous Bolognese sauce originates from the Italian city of Bologna. Tradionally a meat-based sauce, there is in fact no single recipe that can claim to be “authentic”.

This vegan version, based upon crumbled smoked tofu and finely chopped vegetables, takes quite a few liberties with the general concept of a Bolognese sauce, but in my defence it results in a plate of food that is very tasty, hearty and nutritious.

smoked tofu and mushroom Bolognese

Ingredients
225 g smoked tofu, grated or broken into small pieces using a food processor
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
150 g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, approx 100 g, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
200 ml red wine (or substitute vegetable stock if preferred)
450 ml organic passata
25 g organic tomato puree
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method
1. Pre-heat the oven to 140°C (275°F, gas mark 1). Pour the olive oil into a large ovenproof dish that has a lid and place over a medium heat. After a minute, add the onion, celery and carrot and fry, stirring for 7-8 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring for another three minutes before stirring in the crumbled tofu.

2. Stir in the oregano, basil, sea salt and black pepper then add the wine, passata and tomato puree. Bring to a simmer, then give everything good stir before placing the lid on the dish and then placing it in the pre-heated oven.

3. Cook the sauce in the oven for 30 minutes. After the sauce has been in the oven for 20 minutes, cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until just tender – al dente. Drain the pasta.

4. Remove the dish from the oven and remove the lid. Carefully stir in the drained spaghetti and serve immediately.

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Categories: dairy free, vegan, vegetarian

Tags: , , , , , ,

13 replies

  1. You’ll get this CircusGardener! As much as this recipe tempts me, today I’m not sure I’m ready for anything smoked! 🙂

  2. Great recipe, but we don’t cook much with tofu (smoked or otherwise), so might simply go with extra mushrooms. We have successfully reduced the amount of meat in our diets, but it isn’t hard to eat vegetarian here in Greece with such great seasonal produce available. And, you are absolutely right, the only sane thing to do is to direct agricultural subsidies to sustainable organic farming.

    • Thank you Debi. The recipe would be fine substituting more mushrooms for the tofu. I envy the range and quality of fresh produce you must enjoy living in Greece. Steve 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for what you are doing. Recipes are such an attraction to get eyes and that you simultaneously include the wisdom that you clearly have about our culture and environment is even more hearty than your wonderful recipes. Applause.

  4. Writing from one of the epicentres of bushfires in Australia I would suggest climate disaster is well and truly with us ! Of course Jeremy Clarkson seems to think this is God;s way of telling the world Australia is uninhabitable !! Altho’ I have never used the smoked version I love tofu and think this a recipe I would love to try. Not certain about the use of ‘bolognese’ – reminds me too much of ;spag bol’ which naturally foes not exist anywhere in Italy being a totally American aberration . . .Ragu bolognese to be served with fettucine perchance naturally does . . . meanwhile the best for the New Year, dear Boris and Brexit and all which goes along . . .just watched a well-made British show explaining provable post-Brexit food prices in Britain . . . oh dear !!

    • Hi Eha. The scenes from the Australian bush fires we have been shown here are truly terrifying and apocalyptic. Anyone who in a position of influence who still claims we are not facing a climate emergency is a dangerous charlatan. Please stay safe. Steve x

      • 🙂 No death wish here and methinks we all are doing our best . . . but do send some air one can breathe . . . and 20 hours out of 24 or endless helo and plane sounds low, low overhead whilst a look out of the window is black, orange or yellow, is pretty scary . . .

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