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Vegan Morel Mushroom Bolognese with Rigatoni

Slofoodgroup Team July 02, 2019

Vegan Bolognese with Morel Mushrooms, Arugula, and Rigatoni 

Mighty morel mushrooms replace the meat In this traditional red sauce!

This savory, rich Bolognese sauce builds its decadent flavor from our dried morel mushrooms. Bolognese is classically a meat-based sauce but vegans and meat-eaters alike will love this plant-based version. We disperse the earthy flavors of the morel mushrooms throughout the dish in a few different ways. First, we rehydrate the mushrooms in hot water. That hot water quickly absorbs the umami flavors of the mushrooms and transforms into a beautiful broth. This broth becomes the foundation of our sauce. It touts a nutty, rich flavor. Next, we chop half of our mushrooms to incorporate into the sauce. This builds on the flavor while enhancing the texture of the sauce. Lastly, we slice the other half of our mushrooms in half to top the dish. They give the finished product a great bite.

Morel Mushroom Bolognese

To make the morel mushroom sauce:

Start by sautéing garlic and shallots in olive oil. I like to finely mince the garlic and shallot, so they practically dissolve and incorporate into the sauce. You’re going for a golden brown here, so as soon as you start smelling the aroma and see the color changing, it’s time to deglaze with red wine. The acid in the red wine will loosen up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. These little bits hold a lot of flavor, so use a wooden spoon to gently scrape them up as you stir in red wine.

Next, in goes the morel mushroom soaking liquid. This liquid holds incredible flavor, even with only 30 minutes of soaking. If you’re going for a deeper flavor, you can leave the mushroom to soak longer. With the soaking liquid, you’ll add crushed tomatoes and fresh whole cherry tomatoes. After simmering for about 10 minutes, you’ll toss the arugula into the sauce and give it a chance to wilt.
There’s a reason that morel mushrooms are also known as sponge mushrooms. They soak up all the delicious flavors of this savory sauce. The mushrooms lend to that coveted meaty bite while dispersing the umami flavor throughout the sauce. The layer of flavor can’t be beaten!


For this recipe, the vegan morel mushrooms bolognese is served over rigatoni, but any of your favorite pastas will work. Take my advice and make a double batch—you won’t be sorry!


Serves 4

Inactive Time 40

Active Time 15

Total Time 55


1/2 oz dried morel mushrooms
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup shallot, minced
1/4 cup red wine
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 lb rigatoni
2 cups arugula, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, torn


  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Place morel mushrooms in a heatproof container then pour boiling water over top. Allow to reconstitute for 30 minutes. Carefully remove mushrooms from soaking liquid and pour soaking liquid through a strainer to measure 1 cup.
  3. Bring 1 qt salted water to a boil.
  4. In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  5. Add shallot and garlic. Cook 2-3 minutes, until fragrant.
  6. Add red wine. Cook 2-3 minutes, until evaporated.
  7. Add reserved soaking liquid, crushed tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes to saucepan and bring to a boil.
  8. Roughly chop half of morels. Slice remaining morels in half lengthwise.
  9. Add chopped mushrooms to the sauce. Reduce heat and simmer 8-10 minutes.
  10. Add rigatoni to boiling water. Cook 8-10 minutes, until al dente, then drain.
  11. Add drained pasta and arugula to the sauce and toss to coat until arugula is wilted.
  12. Divide pasta between bowls and top with remaining sauce and fresh torn basil.


Looking for other recipes to enjoy some your favorite mushrooms?  Head over to our recipes for some great ideas or even send us some of your own.