Sauté the celery, carrots, onion, garlic and ¾ teaspoon salt in a sauté pan over medium heat until brown and caramelized. About 8-10 minutes. You can use oil or broth (if you are oil-free), but make sure you get it nice and browned.
Add the wine and liquid smoke, and simmer as you gently stir and scrape the pan to get all the browned stuff stuck to the bottom off. This is called deglazing. Keep going until most of the wine has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes.
Then add the tomatoes, milk, broth, the rest of the salt (start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more if needed) and the pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 80-90 minutes. Stir every 20 minutes or so. You decide how "saucy" you want this, simmer on the lower end for a saucier end result. Don't forget that when you add the "meat" at the end, it will suck up some of the liquid.
While it is cooking, make the “meat” portion. Put the rice in a medium sized pot and fill it with water, make sure you have plenty of water so that when you add the chickpeas it will cover them.
Partially cover and bring to a boil (about 7-8 minutes, depending on stove top).
Turn the heat down to medium and cook partially covered an additional 10 minutes (should be about 17-18 minutes total rice cooking time). The texture of the rice should be just beginning to get chewy, not hard but not fully cooked.
Add the soaked chickpeas and cook an additional 8 minutes.
Drain and rinse. Put the mixture in a food processor.
Pulse until you get a crumbly meaty like texture. You may need to stop and mix every few pulses. Set aside.
When the sauce is done cooking, it will have thickened up well. Add about 1 ½ to 2 cups of the meat. You can add as little or as much as you prefer.
Continue to stir and cook the sauce until you get the thickness you prefer.
Serve over your favorite pasta and devour.
Nutrition facts are for the bolognese only, they do not include the pasta.
If you don’t do wine, then you can sub with 1 cup veggie broth, but I highly recommend the wine as it helps give it the amazing deep flavor.
If you do not have liquid smoke, you could leave it out or try using a bit of smoked paprika. The liquid smoke is definitely the best option but the sauce will still be good without it.
The meat portion makes a little over 2 cups. I only used about 1 ½ cups in my sauce. You can decide how little or how much you want to add. The extra can always be used at a later date, or it can also be frozen.