This rigatoni with vegetarian bolognese sauce is the perfect meatless alternative to the Italian classic. It uses mushrooms instead of ground beef, which gives it great flavor and texture. Plus, it couldn’t be easier. Pulse the vegetables in the food processor, then cook them in a sauce pan along with some red wine and water that the mushrooms have been soaked in. It doesn’t have to simmer as long as regular bolognese, but it still develops great depth of flavor.
Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 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 and cremini, stemmed and chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup red wine
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese
- 1 pound short pasta, such as strozzapreti or rigatoni
- ¼ cup Parmesan
- Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with 1 ½ 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 to the pan 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 the mascarpone cheese and stir until just 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 the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid, and add it to the vegetable mixture. Add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid, if necessary, to moisten the sauce.
- Toss with the Parmesan and serve, topped with additional cheese if desired.