Special equipment: an immersion blender
For Bobby's meatless Bolognese: Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss the grape tomatoes in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and the salt and roast on a rimmed baking sheet until just bursting, about 15 minutes. Let stand until cooled and then roughly chop.
In a saucepan, heat the remaining 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and cook the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the tomato sauce, basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, vinegar, sugar and red pepper flakes and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Add the roasted grape tomatoes and olives.
For the patty: Preheat the oven to broil.
Bring a medium stockpot filled three-quarters of the way with water to a boil. Add the whole-wheat spaghetti and cook until done, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, spread on a baking sheet and let cool to the touch.
In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the mushrooms until soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool. Squeeze the mushrooms to remove excess water.
Chop the spaghetti into 1-inch pieces. In a mixing bowl, add the olives, parsley, oregano, thyme, spaghetti and mushrooms. Mix well to combine.
In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until they reach stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the spaghetti mixture, making sure not to stir.
Spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Drop 2- to 3-tablespoon scoops of the spaghetti mixture into the pan and press down into a slider-sized patty (cook 3 patties at a time). Cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Repeat the process until all the spaghetti mixture is cooked. You should have 12 patties.
Place the cooked spaghetti patties on a baking sheet and cover each with half a slice of cheese. Broil until the cheese has melted, about 1 minute.
For the sliders: Spray a saute pan with cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat, add the buns and cook until toasted, about 1 minute. Flip the buns and heat the other sides. Remove from the pan and rub the cut sides of the garlic on the bottom pieces of the buns.
Starting with a bottom bun on a plate, add the spaghetti patty, 1 tablespoon of Bobby's meatless Bolognese, 2 basil leaves and 1 slice of tomato. Finish by adding the top bun. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
This recipe yeilds extra sauce. Reserve it for another use.
When blending hot liquid, first let it cool for five minutes or so, then transfer it to a blender, filling only halfway. Put the lid on, leaving one corner open. Cover the lid with a kitchen towel to catch splatters, and pulse until smooth.
Recipe courtesy of Bobby Deen