Thursday, May 28, 2009

mmm . . . mushroom bolognese

Today was one of those dreary, unseasonably cold late spring days in Boston. After enjoy truly gorgeous and summer-like weather over Memorial Day weekend, today was back to the cold! I must take a moment to say that I had a truly fantastic weekend, spending time with family and friends in the Philadelphia-area, including a visit to the Jersey Shore, the Art Museum, a local farmers market, and lots of cooking and baking with my mom (including delicious cinnamon rolls, to be posted soon!) But back to the task at hand . . .

I always find sun-less, misty grey days inspire the need for heart-warming comfort food. My first thought was a hearty pasta dish, but where to go from there? I love love love this Mushroom Bourguignon over at Smitten Kitchen, but wanted something different. So I started thinking about Bolognese, the classic Italian meat sauce. And here, I must make a small confession. I have never had REAL Bolognese. No, I'm not talking about flying to Bologna for dinner. But having never been a fan of meat (and it's been around five and a half years since I last ate beef) I never tried Bolognese the traditional way - with ground beef and pork.

For this recipe, I checked out several traditional Bolognese recipes, including one from Lidia Bastianich, and made my own adjustments. And, at the insistance of my new friend Raymond at the Salumeria Italiana, I used a dry white wine instead of the traditional red. Also, I substituted fresh roma tomatoes for the typical canned San Marzanos. I served the sauce over some lovely imported Italian papardelle noodles. Overall, what resulted was a delicious, and hearty, dish. Definitely lighter than I imagine the meaty version might be, but all around, worth making again, though I might tweak a few things - like adding more acid, possibly in the form of balsamic vinegar (another Raymond suggestion). I am also tempted to use the sauce for a hearty. vegetarian lasagne. I'll keep you posted!

Mushroom Bolognese

2 tbsp dried porcini mushrooms
1 small onion, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 stalks celery, leaves removed, finely diced
2 lbs portobella mushrooms, cleaned, stems removes, and coarsely diced
1/4 to 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a Verdicchio)
1 to 2 tbsp tomato paste (I prefer the kind in the tube)
1 lb roma tomatoes (I used fresh, but you could use canned)
4 to 5 sprigs of fresh thyme

Chopped flat leaf parsley
Grated parmesan

Soak the porcini mushrooms in 1 cup hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain, reserving soaking liquid. Mince porcinis.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan, and add the onion, carrot and celery. Saute until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add white wine, bring to a boil, and cook for about 5 minutes, until most of the liquid is reduced. Add mushrooms, season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are softened and browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Add tomato paste, stirring to incorporate, followed by fresh tomatoes and reserved porcini soaking liquid (if there is not enough liquid to cover the mushroom mixture, top of with water or more white wine). Throw in the time sprigs, bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cover. Let the mixture cook 20 to 25 minutes.

In the meantime, cook your pasta (I used papardelle) according to package instructions. After straining the pasta, toss with olive oil and parsley.

To serve, twirl pasta into bowls, top with sauce, and garnish with extra parsley and parmesan. Enjoy!

- e

1 comment:

Jessica said...

It's so funny that you just made a vegetarian bolognese, because I just made an extra meaty one last week (grass-fed beef, pork and veal). Thanks for all the great recipes and pictures; I love reading them at work ; )