Food for Fuel: Quorn and Red Onion Bolognaise


It’s become something of a tradition for me to eat spaghetti bolognaise the evening before a race. Not that I – in my usual place at the back of the pack – think it’s going to help me go faster but just because it’s become part of the lead up to standing on the start line.

Last Sunday I took part in the Pilgrims Hospice Cycle Challenge – a 45 mile hilly route looping around Ashford and Canterbury. Despite this not actually being a race, it involved getting up early on a Sunday and wearing a number (well, actually, it was my bike that wore the number) and therefore spaghetti bolognaise was required the evening before. Unfortunately, Shaun had been at work all day and didn’t get back until 8pm, so it was too late to go to the supermarket for ingredients and start cooking. Yes, I could have been organised and gone myself earlier in the day but… I don’t know, I was probably pissing about on Facebook or something.

Still, had I had my traditional pre-race spag bol, it would have been along the lines of this one, using Quorn instead of cow, what with me being a vegetarian and that.

Quorn and Red Onion Bolognaise (serves 4)
(Taken from Leith’s Vegetarian Bible)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 leek, thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
300g/11oz Quorn mince
1 x 400g/14oz can tomatoes
290ml/1/2 pint vegetable stock
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 tablespoons mushroom ketchup

To serve

340g/12oz spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan-style cheese

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, pepper, carrots and leek. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes until softened.
  2. Add the Quorn mince to the vegetables and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.  Increase the heat and allow the Quorn to colour slightly.
  3. Add the tomatoes (these can be liquidized for a smoother consistency, if liked), stock, tomato puree and mushroom ketchup.  Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the liquid is well reduced.  Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  4. Meanwhile, bring  a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.  Add the spaghetti and cook, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes until al dente.  Drain thoroughly and rinse the spaghetti under hot running water.  Drain well.
  5. Place the spaghetti in a warmed serving dish and pour over the Quorn bolognaise sauce.
  6. Serve with Parmesan-style cheese sprinkled on top of the sauce or handed separately.

Quorn Ambassador: Quorn Chilli non Carne

Quorn asked me to be their ambassador. I liked the sound of being an ambassador as I reckoned it means I can get people to curtsy and stuff. It also involves free Quorn, so of course I said yes.

As I’ve been vegetarian for over twenty years, I’ve eaten a lot of Quorn and one of their most versatile products is the mince. I’ve used it in enchiladas, lasagnes, tortilla stacks, spaghetti bolognaises, stir fries, cottage pies, Singapore noodles and chilli. The chilli is especially great as you can have chilli with rice, on jacket potatoes or even make a chilli cheese pie (just pour the chilli into a ready made pastry case and bung a load of cheese on top).


Quorn Chilli non Carne (serves loads)

500g pack of Quorn mince
1 tbsp of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
2 bay leaves
400g can chopped tomatoes
300ml vegetable stock
1 green pepper, de-seeded and chopped
400g can kidney beans, drained
1 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp water
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Fry the onion and garlic until soft and golden. Add the Quorn Mince, spices and bay leaves and fry for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, vegetable stock and green pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the kidney beans and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Mix the cornflour with the water to a smooth paste. Stir into the Quorn chilli to thicken.
  5. Cook gently for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the bay leaves and discard.