In Italian cooking, an important distinction in pasta sauces is between ‘red’ (with tomato) and ‘white’ (without tomato). Many recipes come in white and red versions. I often have both versions on my blog, such as wild boar ragù (red and white). I had never seen recipes for pasta with mushrooms in a red version, which is why I was intrigued by Eva’s recipe on her blog KitchenInspirations for a mushroom and walnut ragù with tomato. I did some googling and could find just one similar recipe in Italian. It sounded and looked very nice, so I decided to give it a go. I made only a few adjustments for adding even more flavor: I added dried porcini mushrooms and toasted the walnuts. I had run out of sweet paprika and therefore substituted with a smaller amount of smoked paprika to avoid overpowering the other flavors. (The smoked paprika was actually a gift from Eva from when she visited, so very appropriate to use that!) I did follow Eva’s suggestion to use a bit of baking soda to reduce the acidity of the tomatoes, but realized too late that she used San Marzano tomatoes, which are more acidic than the canned peeled tomatoes that I use. For the tomatoes I used, it wasn’t necessary and I like it better without the baking soda. The resulting ragù was delicious and full of flavor and texture. Not the same as a meat ragù, but very good all the same. You could turn this into a vegan dish by omitting the milk, replacing the parmigiano with nutritional yeast, and making the fresh pasta with water instead of eggs.
225 grams (1/2 lb) cremini/button mushrooms, chopped
20 grams (3/4 oz) dried porcini mushrooms
50 grams (1.8 oz) walnuts
60 ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine
250 ml (1 cup) sieved tomatoes (tomato puree, passata di pomodoro)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
80 ml (1/3 cup) milk
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 carrot, minced
1/2 celery stalk, minced
1 small shallot, minced
2 tsp puréed roasted garlic
1 Tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika paste and 1 pinch of sweet smoked paprika (I used 1 tsp smoked paprika)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
fresh pappardelle pasta made with 2 eggs and 200 grams (1 1/3 cup) of semolina flour
Roughly chop 50 grams of walnuts and toast them for 8 minutes in the oven at 180C/350F.
Roast some garlic along with the walnuts. The garlic will require about 20 minutes to become soft.
Soak 20 grams of dried porcini mushrooms in 250 ml (1 cup) hot water for about 15 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole or Dutch oven and add minced carrot, celery, and shallot. Season with salt.
Stir over medium heat until the vegetables dry out and begin to become golden.
Add 225 grams of chopped fresh mushrooms.
Stir for a couple of minutes, then add the toasted walnuts.
Drain the porcini mushrooms, and reserve the soaking liquid. Chop the porcini mushrooms, and add them to the casserole.
Mince the roasted garlic, and add to the casserole.
Deglaze with 60 ml dry white wine. Wait until half of the wine has evaporated, such that the alcohol is all gone.
Filter the mushroom soaking liquid with kitchen paper to remove any sand, and add to the casserole.
Bring to a boil.
Add 250 ml of sieved tomatoes…
…as well as a tablespoon of tomato paste and the paprika.
Stir, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Allow to simmer over very low heat…
…until the ragù is very thick, 1 to 2 hours.
Then, add 80 ml of milk. This ingredient is also added in a traditional ragù alla bolognese and rounds out the flavor of the ragù.
Make (or buy) fresh pappardelle or other pasta ribbons. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the pappardelle. Cook them until they are al dente, which in my case took about 8 minutes. Reserve some of the pasta cooking water when you drain the pasta.
Taste and adjust the seasoning of the ragù with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add the drained pasta to the ragù along with as much of the cooking water as needed to make it moist but not soupy.
Add some freshly grated parmigiano.
Toss to mix until the pappardelle are properly dressed with the ragù.
Serve at once on preheated plates, sprinkled with some more freshly grated parmigiano.
This is great with a sangiovese based red from Italy, either a Chianti from Tuscany or a Sangiovese from Romagna.
Fileja is fresh pasta from Calabria, served here with red onion, white beans, and pecorino. An appropriate flashback for today, as it is also a vegetarian fresh pasta dish.