Mushroom Ragu can impress meat lovers!

Today my car is in the shop and couldn’t make it to the store.  Something I learned from my mother– never apologize when you’ve done your best.  I have the ingredients to treat my family to a simple Italian vegetarian meal. To make it, just toss pasta with a mixture of herb-seasoned mushrooms added to a tomato wine sauce.  I’m serving the Ragu with a field greens salad and bread sticks.

Mushroom Ragu

Ingredients

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound rigatoni rigate
  • A generous handful of dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or water (for vegetarians)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 pound mushrooms of your choice, sliced
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 7-8 sage leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 large  bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine or dry white wine
  • A generous handful of grated Romano or Parmigiano cheese

Preparation

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the starchy cooking water. While the pasta is working, in a small saucepan, cover the porcinis with the stock (or water). Bring to a simmer. Drain, reserving the stock; coarsely chop. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the butter to melt. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned, 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another saucepan, heat the milk to barely a simmer. Remove from the heat; cover. Add the carrot, onion, garlic, thyme, sage and bay leaf to the cooked mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste for 1 minute. Stir in the Marsala, chicken or vegetable stock and the milk; simmer. Add the pasta and reserved starchy cooking water to the sauce. Stir in the cheese.

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