Recipe and photos by Tracey Kusiewicz.

We’ve spruced up a homely outdated side dish of squash, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes into a plant-based take on the classic Italian pasta Bolognese. Using both portobello and dried porcini mushrooms imparts a deep umami flavour redolent of the meat you would traditionally find in this dish. The supermarket sun-dried tomatoes popular in the era are replaced here with a homemade, oven-roasted rendition. Be sure to give it a sprinkling of this easy vegan “cheese” for a punchy finish.


Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt

Vegan Cheese

⅓ cup raw cashews
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp garlic powder

Mushroom Bolognese

7 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 spaghetti squash
3 tbsp dried porcini mushrooms
5 cups portobello mushrooms (about 4 large), stems removed and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup diced onion
½ cup finely diced celery
½ cup grated carrot
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp chili flakes
½ tsp dry or fresh oregano
1 398-ml can crushed tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp chopped fresh basil

Pre-heat oven to 300°F. Place the halved cherry tomatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt and bake in the centre of your oven for 2 hours, until wrinkly and dried.

To make the vegan cheese, pulse cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic and salt in a food processor until crumbly. Set aside.

Increase oven to 350°F. Prepare the spaghetti squash by cutting lengthwise and removing seeds and pulp. Place cut-side-up on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the centre of your oven for 1 hour. Set aside, covered to keep warm, until ready to plate.

Prepare porcini mushrooms by breaking them into small pieces and soaking them in 1 cup of hot water while you prepare the mushroom bolognese sauce.

Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add portobello mushrooms and sauté until browned. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt, remove from pan and set aside.

On medium-high heat, in the same pan, add remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil, along with chopped onion, celery, grated carrot, garlic and seasonings. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add porcinis with their soaking water, bring to a boil and deglaze the mixture, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula.

Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and cooked portobello mushrooms and simmer on medium-low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened. Add chopped fresh basil.

To assemble, use a fork to scrape the flesh of the spaghetti squash and distribute evenly into bowls. Spoon bolognese sauce on each squash serving, top with a few roasted cherry tomatoes and sprinkle with vegan cheese. Serves 4.

Credit: Tracey Kusiewicz