First, for those of you who follow this blog, let me apologize for not posting on Friday – I’ve been recovering from a cold and subsisting mainly on tea (with ginger and honey, yum), and I haven’t had a chance to re-build my backlog of posts for such times yet. But I’m back in the swing of things now and have been cooking up some great new recipes for this week. Let’s start with this mushroom ragu. I was craving a bowl of pasta with meat sauce, but wanted to eat something a little healthier instead. While I usually try not to create “imitations” of other foods (though I’ve been known to do so before), I figured what I was really craving was something with a lot of umami (as meat sauce typically has) and something nice and filling (as pasta is). So I cooked up this sauce, with the meatiness of cremini mushrooms standing in for the usual ground beef, while the liquid they release serves as the base for the sauce. It’s thickened up with tomato paste and minced black olives, then given a flavor boost from red wine, for a savory sauce that would be great on pasta in place of your usual sauce. I wanted an extra nutritional boost, so I actually served this on top of white beans which worked quite well. I think it would also be a great sauce on top of chicken or roasted vegetables.
Mushroom Ragu (adapted from The New York Times)
Yield: 4 – 6 servings
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 – 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 lbs cremini mushrooms, finely chopped*
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 1/2 Tbsp minced black olives
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
- salt and pepper, to taste
*You can substitute button mushrooms or portobellas, as they’re essentially the same thing.
- In a large sauté pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat, then add 1 onion, diced, and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add 4 – 6 cloves garlic, minced, and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add 1 1/2 lbs cremini mushrooms, finely chopped, and cook until they wilt and give up their juices, about 5 – 10 minutes. Do not let the juices evaporate.
- Stir in 3 Tbsp tomato paste and 1 1/2 Tbsp minced black olives.
- Pour in 1/2 cup dry red wine, and cook briefly until all ingredients are combined, and the sauce has thickened, about 2 – 3 minutes.
- Season with 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano, 1 tsp crushed red pepper, if using, and salt and pepper, to taste. Serve over pasta, beans, or chicken.