Meatless ‘Grünkern’ sauce bolognese

Grünkern bolognese sauce

What the heck is ‘Grünkern’? It’s basically spelt that has been harvested while still unripe – therefore its green (‘grün’ in German) colour. It’s quite popular among vegans and vegetarians in Germany since its texture makes it perfect for replacing ground meat in burgers, chilli or pasta sauces – just like this bolognese inspired vegan pasta sauce. It’s also a good alternative if you are allergic to soy protein and therefore can’t use the most commonly sold soy based meatless alternatives to ground beef. It also brings a nice hearty flavour to every dish, so you will need less spices – especially salt – than usually. Call me weird, but its taste and smell kind of remind me of smoked bacon – though it has been years since I last ate smoked bacon, so my taste-memory might not be the best. If you search for Grünkern on your next shopping trip, try whole food stores – that’s where you would also find it in Germany. It may also be sold as ‘unripe spelt grain’, though it is usually sold under it’s German name. If you find it – give it a try!

You need:

  • 50 g Grünkern
  • 50 g coarsely ground Grünkern
  • 400 ml water
  • 1 big onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 packet (500 ml) tomato passata
  • 1 small can of diced tomatoes (400 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dired oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • salt
  • coarse black pepper
  • vegetable oil

Heat the water in a small pot. Add the Grünkern, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the coarsely ground Grünkern and simmer for another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, wash and clean the vegetables, peel if necessary and cut all into fine cubes. Drain any excess water from the Grünkern. Heat some oil in a big frying pan and gently roast the diced onion for a couple of minutes. Add garlic, stir well and gently roast for another couple of minutes before adding the Grünkern, carrots and celery stalks. Mix well and roast for at least five minutes, then add tomato paste, tomato passata, canned tomatoes, sugar and all spices. Bring to a boil (you might need to add a little more water – that depends on the Grünkern) and simmer for at least 30 minutes, but best would be one to two hours for all the flavours to develop. Make sure to stir regularly to prevent the sauce from burning at the bottom of the pan. Season to taste with salt and coarse black pepper. Serve with you favourite pasta.

Note: This serves up to four persons.



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