An easy bolognese sauce made with riced cauliflower, tomatoes, and seasonings. It’s healthy and hearty and even my kids gobble this down two bowls at a time. Perfect for a weeknight meal!
This vegan pasta recipe is quick and easy – perfect for any day of the week. It feels fancier than pasta and marinara sauce, even though it’s just as easy. It would make a great recipe for entertaining, as well.
The texture makes the sauce hearty, but it’s low-calorie and low fat. Pair it with gluten free pasta and it’s also low-carb.
Put this meatless meal on your menu tonight and watch your family gobble it up!
Cauliflower rice stands in for meat crumbles in this vegan bolognese.
I pulse cauliflower florets just a few times in a food processor until it resembles crumbles. I like to have the crumbles not completely uniform in size to more closely resemble how traditional bolognese would look. You definitely do not want to over-process the cauliflower!
If you don’t have a food processor, or just want to save a few minutes, you can use store-bought cauliflower rice. You can usually find it in the produce section and/or the freezer section.
One of my favorite sauces for pasta is my Lentil Mushroom Healthy Bolognese. It’s hearty, “meaty”, full of flavor, and so delicious. The mushrooms and lentils are there in their full glory, though, so if you don’t love those ingredients, that recipe might not be for you.
This Cauliflower Bolognese is different. Mixed into tomato sauce, you can’t even tell that it’s cauliflower in there.
In fact, 2 out of 3 of my kids claim not to like cauliflower, yet ate two big bowls of this pasta and sauce. Afterwards, I let them in on the secret and my daughter said, “Oh, wow! I guess I do like cauliflower!”
It’s definitely an easy way to sneak in some veggies if you need to do that for some of your family members.
30 Minute Meal
I love that this meal can be on the table in 30 minutes. With the busy schedules of our 3 children, it seems we are rushing off to some kind of practice or game just about every night.
The sauce comes together in the amount of time it takes to cook the pasta.
Since the sauce contains veggies, no side dish is needed here. However, if you do have a little more time to sit down and savor dinner, a side salad and some crusty garlic bread would be divine alongside the pasta.
More 30 Minute Family Meals
Try it with Zucchini Noodles
This vegan bolognese is super comforting over a big bowl of pasta, but I also love it over zucchini noodles, or zoodles, as they are sometimes called.
I love my spiralizer and it’s super easy to use, but pre-made zucchini noodles are easy to find in grocery stores these days, too, and are a great option if you don’t have a spiralizer.
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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- 1 pound bow tie pasta or pasta of choice (gluten free, if desired)
For the Vegan Bolognese
- 1 medium head cauliflower chopped into florets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or ¼ – ½ cup of veggie broth for oil-free
- 1 sweet onion diced
- 2 medium carrots diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 15 ounces canned tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons coconut aminos or tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika optional
- 1 cups reserved pasta water
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
- Pulse the cauliflower florets in a food processor just 3 to 4 times until you have small crumbly pieces. If you have a smaller food processor, you may need to work in batches.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion and carrots for 5 to 6 minutes until the onions soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute.
- Add the cauliflower crumbles, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, coconut aminos, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning, salt, and smoked paprika, if using. Bring to a gentle bubble, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the reserved pasta water to thin. If you like a thicker sauce, you can skip this step. Or if you forgot to reserve some of the pasta water, you can use vegetable broth.
For the Vegan “Parmesan Cheese”
- While the sauce is simmering, grind the pumpkin seeds, nutritional yeast, and salt in a small spice grinder or coffee grinder. If you don’t have a small grinder, you can use a food processor, but it may not get quite as finely ground.
- Combine the sauce and noodles and sprinkle the vegan “parmesan” on individual portions.