Bolognese! You must make this Meatless Walnut-Cauliflower Bolognese with Zucchini Pasta for your next plant-based meal. We’re replacing the meat with walnuts in this case and the result is epic. This meal is gluten-free, vegan-friendly and paleo-friendly!
Time for some spaghetti bolognese! *in my fake Italian accent*
True story: I didn’t even know what bolognese was until I was 21 years old, studying abroad in Australia. I shopped at Cole’s while I was there and always picked up their in-house magazine. Curtis Stone could often be found on the cover, which may have been the determining factor as to why I’d always throw the magazine in my cart. I kid, I kid.
Anyways, I remember in one of the magazines Curtis Stone shared a recipe for bolognese and I thought, “What the heck is bolognese? …Is this Australian?” Then one night my Australian friend had me over for dinner and she whipped up a homemade bolognese filled with so much goodness. My mind was blown.
“THIS is what spaghetti bolognese is? Where have you been all my life?”
Come to find out what I knew in my household as just “spaghetti” (spaghetti noodles with red sauce and ground beef) was basically bolognese. Not a homemade fancy version or anything, but a Midwestern American take on bolognese nonetheless. Truth be told I didn’t partake in spaghetti night at my house. Not in the traditional sense, anyway. I’d ask for spaghetti butter noodles and load it up with parmesan cheese, sans the red sauce. I know I know, so picky.
Fast forward many years later and I’ve grown to enjoy the traditional bolognese dish, but not always a fan of the red meat in it. I don’t dislike red meat, it’s just one of those things for me that I really have to be in the mood for. But do you know what is a great replacement for red meat in a dish like this? WALNUTS. Call me crazy but don’t knock it till you try it.
Meatless Walnut-Cauliflower Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles
Team Good Fat for the WIN.
Now I am sure you’ve heard of the Mediterranean diet but just in case you need a refresher the diet mainly consists of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, grains and olive oil, including moderate amounts of poultry, fish and eggs, while limiting the amounts of red meat, processed meat, dairy and sweets.
There is a reason the Mediterranean Diet is so popular – the landmark PREDIMED study showed a Mediterranean diet rich in tree nuts (50% walnuts, 25% almonds, 25% hazelnuts) reduced the risk of cardiovascular diseases by 30 percent and specifically reduced the risk of stroke by 46% percent when compared to the low-fat diet.
Thankfully we now live in a time where we understand how beneficial adding healthy fats to our diet can be.
You may or may not know that Walnuts specifically are known for their omega-3 content. They are the only tree nut that is an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid. A one-ounce serving of walnuts provides 2.5 grams of ALA. (source)
If you’re interested in learning more about walnuts and just how beneficial they are to one’s health, I highly encourage you to check out Walnuts.Org – California Walnuts has loads of information and resources available!
Okay. Moving on to this walnut bolognese because it is seriously so good!
what you need
- favorite marinara sauce (I used tomato basil)
- fresh garlic
- parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast if vegan)
This recipe is pretty simple too. Just a few steps and you’ll have this walnut bolognese ready in no time.
- Walnut-cauliflower“meat” – You’ll need to process down the walnuts, cauliflower and spices into a meal-like texture. Then you bake it for about 25 minutes total (flipping halfway through) to get the best flavor and texture – this acts as the red meat replacement!
- Sauté the garlic, onion and shredded carrots – add some rich flavor to the marinara sauce by first sautéing the garlic, onion and shredded carrots before adding the marinara sauce and simmering. I also used a simple tomato basil sauce.
- Spiralize the zucchini for noodles – I used blade “D” on the Inspiralizer to create spaghetti style zucchini pasta noodles. You can lightly sauté them, but I just left them raw.
- Add the walnut-cauliflower crumbles to simmering marinara – Now all that is left is to add the cauliflower walnut crumbles to the marinara sauce and serve over the zucchini pasta, garnishing with parmesan cheese.
Oh! Also I opted to reserve half of a cup of the walnut mix and process that with parmesan cheese for a topping. If following a vegan or paleo diet, you could sub nutritional yeast. Or leave out entirely but I like the additional flavor it adds.
I really hope you give this recipe a try! I think you’ll be surprised at just how delicious replacing the meat with walnuts in this traditional bolognese dish.
- 1/2 medium-large head cauliflower, chopped (about 3 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts
- 1 tsp oregano
- 3/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 TBSP olive oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves fresh garlic minced
- 1 cup grated or finely shredded carrots (I used about 3 medium carrots and food processor shredded)
- 24oz favorite marinara sauce (I used tomato & basil)
- 4 medium zucchinis
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan or 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- Preheat oven to 375ºF and grease large baking sheet or line with parchment paper; set aside.
- Place chopped cauliflower, walnuts, spices, salt and pepper in bowl offood processor; pulse until cauliflower and walnuts have broken down into small pieces. Transfer to baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, giving the mixture a stir halfway through baking time. Remove from oven once finished and let cool on sheet. *Option to reserve half cup for cheese topping*
- Meanwhile, in large skillet pan over medium heat add oil, diced onion and garlic; cook while stirring frequently until onions are translucent and garlic fragrant. Add shredded carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes before adding in marinara sauce; turn heat down low and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering spiralize the zucchini; cut ends off flat and spiralize into noodles. I use the Inspiralizer. You can also use vegetable peeler to create ribbons. Distribute zucchini pasta noodles into bowls.
- Transfer walnut-cauliflower mixture into simmering sauce (reserving 1/2 cup if desired) stirring gently to coat.
- In food processor or small blender, pulse together parmesan or nutritional yeast with the reserved 1/2 cup cauliflower walnut mixture.
- Serve walnut-cauliflower bolognese over zucchini pasta noodles, topping with parmesan cauliflower walnut, and garnishing with fresh walnut and basil if desired. Enjoy!