Vegan Bolognese Recipe | Meatless Rigatoni Plant-Based Dish

vegan bolognese recipe

I decided to make this vegan bolognese recipe for you all today because I was craving something meaty.

As you may or may not know, I have had highs and lows throughout my journey being vegan. In fact, at some point I couldn’t continue being vegan due to health reasons, but now that I’m A-OKAY, I decided to slowly transition back.

To kick off my journey back to veganism, I decided that a vegan bolognese recipe would be the ultimate welcome back package. I had seen many plant based cooks use walnut as a ground beef substitute, so I decided to give it a try with my own twist.

Thus far, I have made a couple of recipes at home using walnut, and I cannot begin to describe how thankful I am that I found it. It has changed the vegan game for me completely, and I doubt I would ever be returning to ground beef.

Why You’ll Love This Vegan Bolognese

This vegan Bolognese offers the best of both worlds – a hearty, meaty texture achieved with soaked and blended walnuts, alongside a burst of plant-based goodness from carrots, spinach, and seaweed.

It’s rich and creamy without any dairy, thanks to almond milk, and boasts a savory, umami flavor with nutritional yeast and soy sauce.

This dish is not only packed with nutrients but also highly customizable, making it versatile and suitable for various preferences. With simple, wholesome ingredients, it’s a budget-friendly option that appeals to both vegans and non-vegans alike, providing a comforting and flavorful meal that’s freezer-friendly for added convenience.

Whether you’re seeking a weeknight comfort food fix or a special dinner for guests, this vegan Bolognese satisfies on every level.

Vegan Bolognese Recipe

Related Post: Jackfruit Rotini Pasta Recipe

Ingredients for Vegan Bolognese

  • Rigatoni: The main pasta component, providing a hearty base for the sauce.
  • Walnuts: Soaked and blended to create a rich and meaty texture, adding depth and substance to the sauce.
  • Carrot: Adds natural sweetness, color, and a subtle earthy flavor to the sauce.
  • Green onions: Blended with the walnuts, they contribute a fresh, mild onion flavor to the sauce.
  • Garlic: Enhances the overall savory profile and complements the other flavors.
  • Red onion: Provides a slightly sweeter and milder onion flavor compared to white or yellow onions.
  • Tomato paste: Adds concentrated tomato flavor and a thickening agent to the sauce.
  • Tomato sauce: Provides the base tomato flavor and texture for the Bolognese sauce.
  • Almond milk: A creamy, dairy-free addition that helps achieve a smooth consistency in the sauce.
  • Spinach: Adds a pop of color, a nutritional boost, and a mild earthy taste to the dish.
  • Vegetable broth: Enhances the overall flavor and provides moisture to the sauce.
  • Soy sauce: Adds depth of umami flavor and a hint of saltiness to balance the sweetness.
  • Seaweed: Infuses the sauce with subtle oceanic notes and contributes minerals and umami.
  • Nutritional yeast: Adds a cheesy, savory flavor to mimic the umami of traditional Bolognese.
  • Vegetable oil: Used for sautéing the onions and garlic, adding richness to the sauce.
  • Thyme: Aromatic herb that complements the overall herbaceous profile of the sauce.
  • Red pepper (ground): Adds a gentle kick of heat and a touch of spiciness to the dish.
  • Italian seasoning: A blend of herbs like basil, oregano, and rosemary that enhances the Italian-inspired flavors.
  • Curry: Provides a warm, aromatic complexity to the sauce.
  • Salt: Seasoning ingredient that enhances all the other flavors in the dish, divided for balanced seasoning throughout the cooking process.

Prepping The Vegan Bolognese Sauce

Before preparing the sauce, I recommend soaking the walnut in water for a couple of hours. This makes the walnut softer and easier to process in a food processor. Not only that, but it makes it a lot less nutty when incorporated in the sauce.

I personally soaked my walnut for over 24 hours because I was so busy with work that I barely had time to cook. But you don’t have to leave yours soaked for that long. Between 1hr to 24hrs should be fine, so pick any time frame you want. Just make sure you soak it first.

That being said, I also added seaweed to this bolognese sauce because I love the fishy taste of seaweed. The taste is similar to crayfish, so if you happen to be a crayfish fan, but are vegan, then consider this as an alternative.

Making The Plant-Based Bolognese

To prepare the rigatoni, start by heating approximately 3 cups of water in a medium-sized pot. Then, add the rigatoni pasta, salt, and a touch of oil to prevent sticking. Boil for 10-15 minutes or until the pasta reaches the desired “al dente” texture.

For the vegan bolognese sauce: In a food processor, blend the soaked walnuts, carrots, and green onions until you achieve a uniform mixture. Heat some oil in a medium-sized pot, add the red onions, and sauté them until they start to lose their redness.

Next, introduce tomato paste, thyme, Maggi cubes, ground red pepper, garlic, Italian seasoning, curry, and half a tablespoon of salt. Combine these ingredients, allowing the tomato paste to fry in the oil for about 3 minutes.

Then, add the blended walnut mixture, spinach, tomato sauce, and mix thoroughly. Incorporate seaweed, vegetable stock, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and plant-based milk. Stir well and let it simmer for approximately 15 minutes.

Finally, add the cooked rigatoni pasta to the sauce, mixing until everything is fully combined. Serve your delicious meal with vegan cheese and enjoy!

A recipe card is also attached below for you to print out.

Vegan Bolognese Recipe

Is seaweed necessary in the recipe?

Seaweed adds a subtle oceanic flavor and nutrients to the dish, but it’s not absolutely essential. You can omit it if you prefer.

Can I make this sauce in advance?

Yes, you can prepare the sauce in advance and store it in the refrigerator for a few days. Reheat it when you’re ready to serve and combine it with freshly cooked pasta.

Is soaking the walnuts necessary?

Soaking the walnuts helps soften them, making them easier to blend into a smooth consistency. It’s recommended for the best texture, but if you’re short on time, you can skip this step.

Can I use a different type of pasta besides rigatoni?

Absolutely! While rigatoni works well with this recipe, you can use any pasta shape you prefer or have on hand.

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Vegan Bolognese Recipe

Meatless and delicious vegan pasta bolognese recipe.
Total Time1 hour 35 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 841kcal
Author: Eleanor’s Dish


  • 1 lb Rigatoni
  • cups walnut - soaked
  • 1 cup carrot
  • 1 bunch green onions - Cut into chunks for blending
  • 2 cloves garlic - chopped
  • ½ cup red onion - diced
  • 2.5 oz tomato paste
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 1 cup spinach - chopped
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsps soy sauce
  • 1 seaweed - cut into pieces
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsps vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp red pepper - ground
  • ½ tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp curry
  • tbsp salt - divided


Preparing the Rigatoni

  • In a medium-sized pot, heat approximately 3 cups of water.
  • Add the rigatoni pasta, 1 tablespoon of salt, and a small amount of oil to prevent sticking.
  • Boil for 10-15 minutes or until the pasta reaches an "al dente" texture.

Preparing the bolognese sauce

  • Begin by soaking the walnuts in water for an hour in the fridge.
  • In a food processor, blend carrots, the soaked walnuts, and green onions until you achieve a consistent mixture.
  • Heat oil in a medium-sized pot and add the red onions. Sauté the onions until they begin to lose their redness.
  • Add tomato paste, thyme, Maggi cubes, ground red pepper, garlic, Italian seasoning, curry, and ½ tablespoon of salt. Combine these ingredients and allow the tomato paste to fry in the oil for about 3 minutes.
  • Add the blended walnut mixture, spinach, tomato sauce, and mix thoroughly.
  • Include seaweed, vegetable stock, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and plant-based milk. Stir well and let it simmer for approximately 15 minutes.
  • Add the cooked rigatoni pasta to the sauce and mix until everything is fully incorporated.
  • Serve with vegan cheese and savor your meal!


Calories: 841kcal | Carbohydrates: 105g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 26g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Sodium: 3705mg | Potassium: 1054mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 6831IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 5mg
See Nutrition Disclaimer

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