So I had a huge craving for a rich, hearty ragu pasta not so long ago. And although I didn’t have any meat on hand, I did happen to have a can of chickpeas. And that is how one of my new favorite comfort food dishes was born: meatless chickpea ragu!
This full-of-flavor sauce is a meatless “meat” sauce, a vegan bolognese. But the delicious combo of onions, carrots, hearty mushrooms, and rich garbanzo beans in this sauce make it so crave-able, and so comforting as well.
To give this sauce the same substantial, stick-to-your-ribs quality that a traditional meat-based ragu sauce would have, I toss a can of chickpeas into a food processor or blender and just quickly pulse a few times. The idea is not to blend away until the garbanzo beans turn into a creamy puree, but to just pulse a few times, chopping them up a bit. This mimics the shape and texture of ground beef in the typical bolognese sauce.
I also add chopped mushrooms for extra heartiness. Plus onions, carrots, a couple of key seasonings, and a splash of red wine for tons of flavor. Optional: if you like your sauce a little spicy, add 1/8 or 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes!
As a big veggie lover through and through, I absolutely, no question would prefer this chickpea ragu sauce over a traditional meat sauce any day of the week. (The fact that it takes under 30 minutes to prepare makes me enjoy it even more.) So the true test was to serve it up for dinner and discover my husband’s (aka “Meat-and-Potatoes-Guy’s”) opinion of my meatless “meat” sauce. He said it looked just like a hearty meat sauce. He said it tasted delicious. And he went back for a heaping second portion.
That’s when I felt certain: this is a whole, clean, plant-based comfort food dish that the whole family can appreciate. (The fact that this is also a heart-healthy vegan dish that’s packed with nutrients is just an added bonus!)
We’re huge fans of Italian vegetarian meals around here! Try Urvashee’s baked eggplant parmesan or Katie’s cacio e pepe pasta too.
Meatless Chickpea Ragu Recipe
- 8 Whole Wheat Fusilli Pasta Or other whole wheat penne or rotini pasta
- 4 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 0.5 Onion Diced
- 2 Carrot Diced
- 10 Cremini Mushrooms Stems removed and diced
- 15 Chickpeas Drained and thoroughly rinsed
- 1 Garlic Powder
- 2 Herbes de Provence
- 0.125 Crushed Red Pepper Flakes Optional
- 0.33 Red Wine Dry
- 20 Tomato Puree Or crushed tomatoes
- 3 Fresh Parsley Chopped, optional
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Boil a large pot of water. Salt the water and add the pasta. Cook until just al dente, about 7 minutes, and drain.
- Meanwhile, place the chickpeas in a blender or food processor and pulse a few times, just until beans are roughly chopped (stop before beans are pureed into a smooth and creamy texture).
- Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the crimini mushrooms and chopped chickpeas and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the garlic powder, herbes de provence, and (optional) crushed red pepper flakes. Stir until well combined.
- Add the red wine and cook until wine is reduced, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato puree, stir until well combined, and season with additional salt and pepper.
- Allow sauce to simmer and cook about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and immediately stir in cooked pasta.
- Top with fresh chopped parsley (optional), and serve.