The Great Vegetable Bolognese Sauce with Zucchini Spaghetti
Vegan propaganda: I try not to spread too much of it.
If you read my blog, I think you’ve already accepted that vegetables are good for you and are ok with the lack of meat and dairy in my meals.
But I will share this fun video anyways, because I thought it was flipping awesome. I’ve watched a few documentaries about veganism and I am usually left with a bitter taste in my mouth, wondering about the accuracy of the science and experiences presented. The prolonged juice fast in Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead creeped me out. The main study in Forks over Knives, The China Study, was not convincing for me. Vegucated was cute, following 3 people on a vegan challenge for 6 weeks, though.
But this video? I loved it! Made by Dr Michael Gregor, the physician behind NutritionFacts.Org, he presents how a vegan diet affects the top 15 causes of mortality in a very engaging way. I know the clip is almost an hour long, but it is an hour well spent. If you watch it, please let me know what you think. For me, it reinforced continuing with a plant-based diet for health reasons.
In the spirit of nutritarianism (coined by Dr Fuhrman, describing those who consume foods based on their higher micronutrients and shun refined oils, sugars and salt), I decided to make The World’s Healthiest Tomato Sauce, as proclaimed by Amber.
This was a chunky tomato sauce like no other. Filled to the brim with vegetables. All sorts of veggies, it was a lovely clean-out-my-fridge kind of sauce. I am probably the only person with a random vegetables, like a solo leek, beets, carrots, broccoli stems and mushrooms, hanging around for no good reason. Granted, this is a very flexible sauce so work with what you have. Amber suggests not omitting the olives, though. They add both the salty and fatty components from a whole food (instead of a refined oil product). The tempeh is eerily similar to chunks of meat. The nutritional yeast adds a cheesy hint, as if you had already stirred in Parmesan cheese. But the funniest part of the sauce is that it was more a fluorescent-red, courtesy of the pureed beet.
You might think this sauce would take forever to prep, with so many veggies. However, the food processor does that majority of the work. The directions look lengthy, but you’ll see a theme: chop veggies in food processor, add to the pot and stir.
I actually really liked this sauce. It tastes healthy yet hearty while still feeling light. Would I serve it to omnis I wanted to impress? Probably not. They would probably think I was pulling a joke on them. But if someone made this for me, I’d be thrilled. I’d also have a lot of sauce to last for many meals. Freeze some for later, or relish in eating it a few times a day.
I believe that moderate amounts of oil, sweeteners and salt are good for you. Fats are definitely important, especially to absorb nutrients from other foods, but they can also come from avocados, nuts and seeds (and soy). I plan to incorporate more of these “healthy fats” into my foods.
What do you think about nutritarianism? Oils vs healthy fats?
The Great Vegetable Bolognese Sauce
Adapted from Chef Amber Shea
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and coarsely chopped
2 broccoli stems, peeled and coarsely chopped
10 cloves garlic, peeled
4-6 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cups mushrooms, cleaned
1 can (1.5 cups) pitted olives (I used black)
1 large red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 beet, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 dates, pitted
1 can (5.5 fl oz) tomato paste
2x 28 oz canned tomatoes
240g tempeh, ripped into small pieces
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried tarragon
2 tsp herbamare or seasoned salt
2 tsp soy sauce (I used Bragg’s)
1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
+ pasta to serve
(or 5-6 zucchini, spiralized)
1. In a large stock pot over medium heat, heat 1/4 cup water (or broth).
2. Now get ready with your food processor: Process the onion and leek until finely diced and add to stock pot.
3. Process the broccoli stems and garlic in the food processor until finely diced and add to stock pot. Stir and cover.
4. Process the carrots in the food processor until finely diced and add to stock pot. Stir and cover.
5. Process the mushrooms in the food processor until finely diced and add to stock pot. Stir and cover.
6. Process the olives in the food processor until finely diced and add to stock pot. Stir and cover.
7. Place the red pepper, beet, date and tomato paste in the food processor and puree until smooth. Add to the stock pot, stir and cover.
8. Place canned tomatoes with their juices in food processor and puree until (mostly) smooth (no need to puree if you are using crushed tomatoes). Add to the stock pot, stir and cover.
9. Add the crumbled tempeh to the stock pot and stir.
10. Add the nutritional yeast, herbs, seasoned salt, soy sauce/Bragg’s, chile flakes and stir.
11. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through.
12. Remove from heat, season to taste. Add apple cider vinegar. Serve overtop your choice of noodles.