Satisfying, meaty vegetable bolognese

A couple of weekends ago we had a few friends over for a casual dinner.  I had the others bring appetizer, dessert and wine so I was only in charge of the main dish.  There was just a few of us but one strict vegetarian and two carnivores.  However, I wasn’t about to make two dishes to please everyone.  G, one of the carnivores, remembered a vegetable bolognese that we had at a friend’s and really enjoyed.  I googled the recipe, as I know my friend had gotten it online.  It is a straightforward recipe which turned out wonderfully well!  It calls for a lot of mushrooms, both fresh and dried, which provide the sauce with a satisfying meatiness.  It also calls for mascarpone cheese which adds a creamy richness.  It was a perfect cozy, comforting dish for this cold winter night and it pleased the carnivores in the group!

Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis (foodnetwork.com)

 

Ingredients:
1-ounce dried porcini mushrooms

1 1/2 cups hot water
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces assorted mushrooms (like shiitake, cremini, and brown), stemmed and chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 pound rigatoni pasta
1/4 cup Parmesan

 

Directions:

Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with 1 1/2 cups very hot water. Set aside and let the mushrooms soften.

Place the carrots, onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse the vegetables until finely chopped but still chunky. Place the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped vegetables, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Strain the porcini mushrooms, reserving the porcini mushroom liquid. Add the porcini mushrooms, fresh mushrooms, and tomato paste and continue cooking, stirring to dissolve the tomato paste, until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the porcini mushroom liquid and red wine. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and stir just until the cheese is incorporated.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and add to the vegetable mixture. Add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid, if necessary, to moisten the sauce. Toss with Parmesan and serve.

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