cauliflower walnut bolognese_

Cauliflower Walnut Pasta Bolognese

I didn’t really set out to make a bolognese but it just came to me and I rolled with it…because it is almost fall and comfort food like pasta dishes is right up there with warm sweaters and tall boots! So what makes this cauliflower walnut pasta bolognese so tasty?

Cauliflower Walnut Pasta Bolognese full of authentic flavor - vegan, dairy free and gluten free option!

I could tell you it is the cauliflower walnut meat or I could go on about the flavorful yet barely there sauce – which by the way is what makes this an authentic ‘vegan’ bolognese. But, how about I tell you instead that I wasn’t really sure this was going to work out. I actually had my doubts. Even after my husband did the taste test and gave me the thumbs up. I still doubted that this vegan version of a bolognese would taste meaty enough to qualify.


cauliflower walnut bolognese

Who would think that cauliflower and walnut ‘meat’ would make a good substitute for the real thing? Okay not me. I had my doubts. But reading up on a cauliflower walnut taco meat from Pinch of Yum had me convinced to give it a try in this version of vegan bolognese! Plus, bonus, you will have leftover cauliflower walnut meat from this recipe, so why not spice it up with taco seasoning for another meal? Because cauliflower walnut meat freezes. Vegan meal prep peeps rejoice. Just a cautionary note though – don’t grind this ‘meat’ to a puree in your processor! Pulse gently. You want ‘meat’ not baby food puree.

Next, we add the ‘meatless’ crumbles to a barely there yet creamy tomato base that is also vegetable filled with carrots and celery and then spiced with rosemary and a kick of red pepper. I call this a ‘barely there’ sauce as the focus in a bolognese is on your ‘meat’. Which in this case is your sautéed vegetables and cauliflower walnut meat – no animal products in this vegan bolognese. A touch of lite coconut milk gives this dish a touch of creaminess that really adds to the pasta dish.

And if you aren’t sure what to do with that leftover coconut milk here are some great ideas to add to your meal planning this week:

Coconut Peanut Curry
Easy One Pan Red Curry

This vegan pasta bolognese comes together in less than 40 minutes and can be served with gluten free pasta making this a very allergy friendly for those avoiding dairy and gluten. I love using the new Barilla Red Lentil Penne.

I was so excited this turned out so flavorful! Try this cauliflower walnut pasta bolognese and let us know what you think. Tag @badtothebowl on social media and let us know.

cauliflower walnut bolognese_
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Cauliflower Walnut Pasta Bolognese

No need to simmer on the stove for hours, this vegan bolognese comes together in under 40 minutes!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Main
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 300kcal


Cauliflower Walnut ‘Meat’

  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Bolognese Sauce

  • 2 Tblsp vegan butter
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3.5 oz of shiitake mushrooms, washed and de-stemmed*
  • 2 whole carrots, finely diced*
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced*
  • 1/2 white or sweet onion, finely diced*
  • 1 1/2 tsp crushed dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup plain tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup lite coconut milk
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • cooked penne, rigatoni pasta or rotini pasta***
  • *optional fresh chopped parsley and vegan parmesan or mozzarella


Cauliflower Walnut “Meat”

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Pulse cauliflower florets and walnuts in food processor with salt until coarsely ground.
  • Spread on parchment lined large baking pan.
  • Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes stirring 1/2 through or until they look similar to ‘beef’ crumbles but not burnt.

Bolognese Sauce

  • Sauté carrots, celery, onion and shiitake mushrooms with butter and garlic in large saucepan over medium heat.
  • When vegetables start to soften and onion turns translucent, add rosemary and crushed red pepper flakes and stir.
  • Add tomato paste, tomato sauce and. lite coconut milk, stir well and simmer covered for 15 minutes stirring frequently.
  • Add your squeeze of lemon juice and your 1/2 of your cauliflower walnut meat.**
  • Serve with a sprinkle pf fresh parsley and vegan parmesan .


  • *save time by lightly pulsing carrot, celery, onion and mushroom in food processor. Just don’t over process!
  • **if you want it very ‘meaty’ add it all, but I love to throw the remaining portion in a freezer bag and save for taco ‘meat’.
  • ***I love the new Barilla gluten free lentil pasta in this dish. This is what is pictured. I have also ate this with the Chickpea rotini!
  • Nutrition

    Calories: 300kcal


    1. Jessi Doshier

      Love this better than meat-bolognese..
      Thank you for sharing 🙂

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