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Vegan Bolognese Sauce (Nut-Free)

Pasta lovers, no fear, plant-based bolognese is here. This vegan bolognese recipe is made with cauliflower and sunflower seeds! Nut-free, soy-free, oil-free, gluten-free…but not taste-free. Exploding with flavor and texture, you’re definitely gonna come back for seconds.

Vegan Bolognese Sauce - oil-free, nut-free

Vegan Bolognese

This recipe was inspired by a Meal Mentor plan that used cauliflower rice in place of meat in a bolognese recipe. That was an instant hit with my picky husband so I knew it was a winner. It was delicious, but I felt it could use a little something – a little more texture. A little while back, I tried Pinch of Yum’s Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat and got the idea of using nuts or seeds as “meat”.

I tested a variation with cauliflower + sunflower seeds and FELL IN LOVE with the combination for a vegan bolognese sauce. Seriously, I couldn’t stop eating it! A little soft, a little crunchy. Incredible texture. Plus, it will leave you feeling more satisfied than just a simple marinara sauce. Grab your food processor and let’s goooo!

Vegan Bolognese Sauce - oil-free, nut-free

How to Make Vegan Bolognese Sauce with Cauliflower & Sunflower Seeds

First, can we just take a moment to appreciate the beautiful spiral-y pasta I found?! GORGEOUS. I love, love trying out different types of pasta. My husband is not of a fan of this because he is a strict angel-hair-or-vermicelli kinda guy but he deals.

Anyway, so, the vegan bolognese. We need to make the meat. In a food processor, combine cauliflower florets, sunflower seeds, and seasonings. Pulse until the mixture is ground (resembling ground meat.)

Then I like to saute the mixture in a non-stick pan (I love using ceramic pans) without any oil. The purpose of this is to par-cook the cauliflower and also toast the seeds up a bit. Your next task is to mix in the tomato paste, vegetable stock, and balsamic vinegar and simmer. No tomato chunks here, though you can certainly add a can of diced tomatoes if you’d like!

Don’t want to put it over pasta? Put it over potatoes – for real, it’s SO GOOD. Make some homemade fries or roast up some potatoes. I even had some leftovers on top of vegan breakfast hash. Potatoes are so dang healthy for you, why not?!

Vegan Bolognese

Karissa's Vegan Kitchen
This vegan bolognese sauce is made with cauliflower ans sunflower seeds.
4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Vegan
Cuisine Italian, Vegan


  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2/3 cup raw sunflower seeds roasted is fine
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt to taste


  • In a food processor, pulse together the cauliflower, sunflower seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning until ground.
  • Saute the cauliflower meat in a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat for about 8 minutes.
  • Turn to medium heat and add the remaining ingredients. Whisk well. Let simmer for about 10 minutes. Serve!
Did you try this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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  1. Are seeds-pumpkin or sunflower-crucial to the texture? I cannot have them-or nuts-so wondering if I need to find a substitute or can I just leave them out??

  2. Hi Krissa;

    Would this work with pumpkin seeds? My husband is on a very restrictive oil-free diet, and pumpkin seeds are that much lower. There is a great vegan Parmesan cheese substitute used by combining pumpkin seeds, nutritional yeast and fresh garlic, so I wonder if it would work in the pasta sauce.

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