Goulash: vegan, gluten-free, and possibly Polish

Authentic sign for Czech goulash.
Authentic sign for Czech goulash.

Seeing signs for “authentic Czech goulash” all over Prague brought back memories of my grandmother’s goulash, which I’d always assumed was a Polish dish. What “goulash” means is a bit vague— and as my research and conversations with other relatives points to, that goulash is less about a specific recipe and more about what’s in your fridge. The goulash I remember from childhood had a tomato base, with ground beef, cabbage and onions sautéed together, served over egg noodles.

Gluten-free noodles.
Gluten-free noodles.

And so, I bring you my own version of goulash: inspired by memories of my grandmother’s dish, made vegetarian and gluten-free by my choice, and the memories stirred by food here in the Czech Republic.

Of course, I had to swap the egg noodles my grandmother used for gluten-free ones (I picked these because I liked the shape!) 

Favorite find at Tesco.
Favorite find at Tesco.

The beef has been replaced with smoked tofu. I wouldn’t use beans as a meat substitute; it would turn out too much like chili. If you don’t want to use tofu, I’ve used walnuts before, and cooked with the right spice, they’re a good replacement for beef.

Since we’re not using a specific recipe, don’t feel like you have to stick to what I wrote here. So, any veggies hanging out in your fridge, put ‘em in: stray carrots, zucchini, cabbage, spinach.

Also, this recipe was a total excuse to buy some gluten-free beer (yes, there’s beer in this sauce!) which was inspired by this recipe. Also, the next time I made this, I used red pepper, which upped the spice a little more. It’s up to you.


And full confession: the first time I made this, I just used tomato sauce instead of tomato paste (because I was having trouble finding things at the Tesco.) Next time, I used this tomato sauce (which has soy bits in it, which is awesome!) Both times, turned out fine.

Alnatura's sauce actually comes with soy pieces in it.
Alnatura’s sauce actually comes with soy pieces in it.


1 can stewed tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce (or tomato paste)

2-3 cups diced celery 

2 cups gluten-free beer

2-3 medium onions

3 cups diced mushrooms

2 zucchinis

1 package smoked tofu (or regular tofu with smoke flavor)

garlic, 2-3 cloves



red pepper (optional)

salt and pepper, to taste

olive oil

1. Sauté the onions, mushrooms and celery over low heat, until the mushrooms start to brown slightly.

2. Add the zucchini. Meanwhile, start to grill the tofu in a frying pan.

3. Add the tomato paste, stewed tomatoes, garlic and beer. Simmer over low heat, for about 30 minutes (or until all your veggies are softened.)

Gluten-free beer. Feel free to drink what does not go in to the sauce...
Gluten-free beer. Feel free to drink what does not go in to the sauce…

4.  Now would be a good time to taste the sauce, and add spices.

5. When the tofu gets a little crispy, add it to the sauce.

6. Serve over your favorite kind of noodles.

Goulash, served with bread, as goulash in Czech served.
Goulash, served with bread, as goulash in Czech served.

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