Veggie Bolognese

Since the premier of my show Junk Food Flip (Tuesdays, 9pmET on Cooking Channel), people have been asking me a lot about re-making comfort food dishes (probably because that is the premise of the show).

So today I had to share with you one of my absolute favorite recipe flips.

I make one heck of a Bolognese; it is so rich and delicious. I simmer it for about 4 hours, and then add loads of parmesan and fruity olive oil. I started thinking about how you could change a dish like that when it’s really all meat? And as you guys know, I’m more of a Meat On The Side (cough…Meat On The Side cookbook coming in 2016!...cough) kind of gal .

So I found a way to make a Bolognese completely out of root vegetables and mushrooms.

Add in some tomato paste, Worcestershire and fresh herbs and you get that same deep rich flavor, minus the meat (and the fat and calories that come with it).

However, I felt like it was too misleading to do a Bolognese with absolutely NO meat, so a bit of pancetta adds the perfect porky note.

It’s a classic pasta dish reimagined! It is so good that I dreamt about it last night. Seriously, I had visions of ground up veggies and pancetta dancing in my head…maybe I should see a doctor :/

Veggie Bolognese

servings: 3 cups (serves 4)


  • 3 stalks celery – 1 cup coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot – 1 cup coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium turnip – 1 ½ cups coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion – 1 ½ cups coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound crimini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 ounce parmesan cheese, ¼ cup shredded, plus more for garnish
  • 4oz pancetta


  1. Place the celery, carrot, turnip, onions, and mushrooms in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped (you may need to work in batches).
  2. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat for cooking the pasta. While it is heating, heat oil in large high sided skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Stir in chopped vegetables from food processor, salt and pepper and cook until they are tender but not mushy – about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato paste, Worcestershire, rosemary and oregano to the veggies and cook for 5 minutes more, turn heat to low and set aside.
  5. Cook the pasta in the now-boiling water until al dente according to the package directions. When it is done, drain it, reserving 3 cups of the cooking water.
  6. While the pasta cooks heat a small skillet over medium heat and add the pancetta, cook stirring frequently until crisp and brown. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  7. Add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water to the pan with the veggies and stir to combine. Add the drained pasta and parmesan cheese to the pan and toss to coat the pasta, stirring in some more of the reserved pasta cooking water until the sauce has your desired consistency. Serve immediately topped with the pancetta and extra parmesan.


  • Keep it Simple: Any mushroom works in this dish, so feel free to substitute whatever you like.
  • You can replace the pancetta for bacon if you have it on hand.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking


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