With my apologies to Italy, this recipe makes no pretense at being an authentic dish, rather, it is essentially a combination of two recipes from the recipe book “Cooking on a Bootstrap” by the brilliant, inspirational Jack Monroe (follow her on twitter @BootstrapCook or on Instagram @JackMonroe). This is the best recipe book I’ve come across in a long time and is a wonderful source of recipes, whether you’re trying to live more frugally or not.
The two recipes are “Mushroom and tea bourguignon” (page 213) and “Mushroom and spinach bolognese” (page 203). As I mentioned in my post on Cooking with tea for beginners, she recommends using brewed black tea as a substitute for red wine in recipes, so I’ve taken inspiration from the two recipes to create this.
Her bolognese recipe shares her recipe for “mushroom mince” as a less processed, cheaper alternative to soya mince or Quorn. To make it, finely dice the mushrooms, then spread thinly on a baking tray on a layer of kitchen roll and leave to dry for at least 24 hours. Alternatively, you can roast it in the oven or, as I did (because I’m impatient), simply fry it gently in a little olive oil until most of the moisture has been lost. Now it can be used in the same way as soya or meat mince.
This recipe is packed full of nutritious vegetables, including lots of iron and folic acid and is suitable for vegans, but will keep the meat-eaters in your life happy too. I bought my ingredients from Lidl and it worked out at less than 40p a portion. Also, it takes less than half an hour to prepare. What’s not to love?
Mushroom and tea “bolognese” (vegan)
Preparation time: 10 minutes (less if you use a food processor to chop the mushrooms)
Cooking time: 20 minutes.
Ingredients to serve 4 people:
- 1 black tea bag or a couple of teaspoons of black tea brewed in 300ml water
- 250g pasta – I used spaghetti but any pasta would work
- 1 large onion, finely sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed or finely sliced
- 250g mushrooms, finely diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- a dash of salt and some ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp tomato puree or a tin of chopped tomatoes
- 100g frozen spinach (or fresh)
- 1 tbsp mixed dried herbs, preferably Italian
- Optional: Parmesan cheese or vegan alternative such as Violife’s Non-Dairy Cheese Alternative Prosociano
- Prepare your mushroom mince as outlined above.
- In a large mug, pour boiling water over the tea and leave it to one side to brew
- Gently heat the oil and add the onion, garlic and mushroom mince, salt and pepper and fry for a minute or two, stirring constantly. Turn the heat down low and add the remaining ingredients, with the exception of the pasta, and stir well.
- Strain the tea (or remove the teabag) and pour the black tea into the pan with the mince. Stir and bring back to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for at least 20 minutes.
- Bring a pan of water to the boil, add a little salt, then add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or according to the instructions on the packaging.
- When the pasta and the sauce are ready, drain the pasta, return to the pan, add the sauce, mix well and serve. You can add a grating of parmesan or a vegan alternative if you wish. Jack also suggests that you could add some cannellini beans for some extra protein and to make it more filling.
Serve and enjoy!
Photos by the author in her own kitchen.
Keywords: vegan, tea, mushrooms, pasta, frugal