Porcini Mushroom Bolognese

 
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I love mushrooms. All mushrooms. Mushrooms just taste great in everything. And it’s the perfect substitute for meat. One of my favorite specialty mushrooms is porcini. I love its meaty texture and earthy flavor. I thought it would be fun (and delicious) to create a vegetarian and vegan version of my bolognese sauce with porcini mushrooms.

To create my dish, I used a variety of Alessi Food products, including their extra virgin olive oil, dried porcini mushrooms, linguine, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sea salt, and black peppercorn. Alessi products are fresh, high-quality, and authentically Italian. They are family owned and operated for the last 72 years! You can find their products at most local grocers or you can buy them online with free shipping on all orders over $20. If you love Italian food and cooking, definitely check out Alessi Foods and use code BELLY for a 15% discount. They offer a variety of amazing products. One thing I particularly like about their organic pasta is that it is made with bronze dies, which means it is coarser than most pastas and allows sauce to stick to it more.

My sauce is not only vegetarian but it’s also vegan. I used coconut milk as a dairy substitute to make the sauce creamy. However, I like to top my pasta with a little parmesan but you don’t have to. Happy cooking and eating!

 
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Porcini Mushroom Bolognese (serves 6)

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Dry Ingredients:

1 package (1 lb) of Alessi organic linguine or spaghetti pasta

3 packages (1.5 oz) of Alessi porcini mushrooms

Liquid Ingredients:

1 can (28 oz) of Alessi crushed Italian tomatoes

1 cup tomato sauce

½ cup of dry red or white wine

1 cup of coconut milk

2 tbsp water

½ cup of porcini mushroom water

½ cup of pasta water

Fresh Vegetables:

½ lb mixed mushrooms (cremini and shiitake), coarsely chopped

1 whole eggplant, roasted, peeled and mashed

1 whole sweet yellow onion, diced

1 cup of carrots, diced

1 cup of celery, diced

½ cup of fresh parsley, chopped

Herbs, Spices, & Seasoning:

2 tbsp Alessi extra virgin olive oil

2½-3 tsp Alessi coarse ground sea salt

1½ tsp Alessi ground black peppercorn

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp oregano

6 sprigs of fresh thyme

6 cloves of garlic, 3 thinly sliced and 3 crushed

1 tsp red chili flakes (optional)

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash eggplant and trim ends.  Cut thick round slices and lay flat on a baking sheet.  Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the eggplant and season with salt and pepper.  Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, flipping the eggplant slices over half way through.  When the eggplant has finished baking, allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.  Peel the skin off the round slices and discard. Mash up the eggplant with a knife and set aside.

Soak dried porcini mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes.  Rinse and drain.  Keep ¼ cup of the porcini mushroom water to use in the sauce.

Clean, trim, peel, and dice carrots, celery and onions.  Wash and coarsely chop the mixed mushrooms.  Thinly slice 3 of the garlic cloves and crush the other cloves.

Heat 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat in a large braising pan.  Sautee the onions until they turn a light golden brown.  Then add garlic, celery, and carrots to the pan.  Add 2 tbsp water.  Cook for a few minutes until they have softened. 

Add porcini and mixed mushrooms.  Sprinkle 2 tsp sea salt and 1½ tsp ground black pepper.  Cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms have shrunken.  Pour in roasted eggplant.  Add 1 tsp sugar.  Mix thoroughly and allow to cook for a couple of minutes.

Add ½ cup of dry red or white wine.  Lower heat to medium.  Stir the vegetables, scraping any bits stuck to the pan.  Cook for a few minutes. 

Pour in crushed tomatoes and 1 cup tomato sauce (you can add more if you prefer your bolognese saucier).  Sprinkle in remaining ½-1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp red chili flakes, and 1 tsp oregano.  Throw in 6 sprigs of fresh thyme.  Add ½ cup of the porcini mushroom water.  Mix the vegetarian bolognese.

Lower heat to medium low.  Partially cover the pan with a lid and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. 

In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta until it’s al dente.  Save ½ cup of the pasta water.  Drain pasta and set aside.

After the bolognese has been simmering for 30 minutes, pour in 1 cup of coconut milk (sometimes I add more so that it’s extra creamy).  Add ½ cup of the pasta water or more, depending on how much your sauce has thickened or your preference.  Mix thoroughly.  Allow to simmer for another 30 minutes partially covered.

Remove the thyme sprigs from the sauce.  Serve sauce over pasta.  Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over your dish.  Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley.  Top with shaved parmesan.

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