What Can Be Substituted for Ground Veal in Bolognese?

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Pasta Bolognese gives you a taste of Italy with tomatoes, ground meat and fresh basil.
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Pasta bolognese is an Italian meat dish that is prepared over low heat for several hours. Traditional bolognese is made with a combination of meats, including pork, beef and veal, but you can always use a ground veal substitute in your recipe. Other ingredients in the sauce include carrots, celery, onions and tomato paste or tomato sauce. Some recipes may also include milk and red wine. It is served with pasta, such as spaghetti or tagliatelle.


Ground Veal Substitute

What is ground veal? Ground veal is the processed meat of young calves. Veal taste is considered delicate, and it tends to be quite tender. However, veal can be expensive and may be more difficult to find in some grocery stores, so you may need an alternative to veal bolognese.


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Ground sirloin or ground beef are logical substitutes. These are the meat from adult cows, and since it comes from the same animal, it will have a similar taste to veal, although it is not as tender. It also tends to be more affordable compared to veal.

Ground beef has a higher iron content, which means it is darker in color. Beef also has more nutrients and less water content compared to ground veal, which makes it an excellent substitute for your bolognese.


Other Ground Meat Alternatives

Instead of bolognese with veal, you can use ground pork as a substitute. In fact, many recipes already call for ground pork, so you can simply use more of it rather than a combination of meats. Pork has a mild taste that will work well in your bolognese sauce.


Although lighter in color, ground poultry also makes a good substitute for ground veal. Ground chicken, especially with dark meat, can have a similar flavor and lower fat content. Ground turkey is also a light-tasting, lean meat alternative.

Finally, consider ground lamb. This is a tender meat similar to veal, but it comes from lambs rather than calves. It is especially good when combined with other meats in your bolognese.


Plant-Based Veal Alternatives

Bolognese is not just for meat lovers. You can also use plant-based alternatives for the veal in your sauce. For example, mushrooms bring an umami flavor to the dish. Brown mushrooms are a good choice, and they should be sauteed and added to the dish. Keep in mind that mushrooms shrink quite a bit when cooked, so you may need more than you think.


Using brown lentils will give your bolognese a similar texture and color to the original veal recipe. They are also much less expensive than meat options. You can purchase dry lentils and soak and cook them according to the package directions or use canned lentils.

Tempeh and textured vegetable protein are two other excellent alternatives to ground veal. Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans, and while it has a nutty flavor, it also takes on the flavor of the seasonings and sauces in which it is cooked. Textured vegetable protein will also have a similar texture to ground veal and beef. It is made from defatted soy flour.



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