Fresh Pappardelle with Mushroom and Walnut Ragù

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.

Ingredients

Serves 2

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

Instructions

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.

Wine pairing

This is great with a sangiovese based red from Italy, either a Chianti from Tuscany or a Sangiovese from Romagna.

Flashback

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.

8 thoughts on “Fresh Pappardelle with Mushroom and Walnut Ragù

  1. Thank you for the lovely shoutout and links, I am so pleased you were inspired by my dish. XO
    Your dish looks absolutely wonderful and I love the changes that you made. The use of dried porcini is excellent along with it’s reconstituting liquid, they bring so much earthy flavour to the dish. I loved how rich the dish was even without meat. It is certainly a nice alternative to a meat dish, particularly if one is trying to cut down. I hope you found that the mushrooms stood up well to the long cooking time and (in my opinion) concentrated the flavours even more. You have inspired me to make the dish again, with your modifications (although I only have San Marzano tomatoes on hand so I will still add a pinch of baking soda). Thanks again, Stefan. Hoping this madness has an end soon so we can travel again.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Stefano, a couple of years ago I brought back some cans of San Marzano pelati from Italy. I’m sure they were DOP, but I’m not sure which brand. Perhaps Essa Lunga? They were extremely acidic.

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  2. An interesting recipe to try. I often use mushrooms in the same thus fashion to serve with pasta and have included nuts at times . . . . but not used tomatoes or milk nor such a lengthy cooking time . . . . perchance because I mainly use a variety of Asian mushrooms to serve with Asian noodles I believe do not need such prolonged cooking and lose their health-providing qualities if so treated . . . also I do usually use red or brown onions and wonder does the tiny amount of shallot really retain discernible flavour ? Yes, I am taking the garlic into account . . .

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    1. Hi Eha,
      The amount of shallot, carrot, and celery is the same ratio to tomato and mushrooms as in a regular ragù recipe (about 40 grams of each for 250 grams of tomato).
      The effect of cooking on nutrients is a complicated issue. It may reduce some nutrients by as much as 50%, but that means there are still plenty of nutrients left. Furthermore, loss of water-soluble nutrients is mostly caused by boiling and then discarding the cooking water, which is not the case in this recipe. See for instance https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878450X15000207

      Like

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