Veggie Bolognese

If you like mushrooms, you should make this. Even if you don’t like mushrooms, you should make this. It made a mushroom-tolerator out of me.

I did not like mushrooms growing up. The whole idea of eating fungus – I just couldn’t get past it. Even now, when I look at the frozen Quorn products, they freak me out a little bit.

I do better with mushrooms now, though they’re certainly not on my list of most favorite foods. What got me started on eating them at all was a sauce that was one of the products in our fresh pasta lineup at Fresh Fields/WFM. It was a Veggie Bolognese, made at our commissary in Rockville, and it was just wonderful. It was not a great seller, but if you sampled it to customers with fresh bread – even cold – you could count on it walking out the door.

They don’t sell it any more, but it’s not hard to make. I remember the ingredients very well from puzzling over enjoying something that contained so many mushrooms. The worst part of it is cleaning them, and even that’s not too bad.

The original was more mushroomy and less tomatoey, but I have a certain level of mushroominess that I still cannot get past. If you have no such issues, you could double the amount of mushrooms in this recipe and get a product closer to the original.

olive oil (plenty)
1 1/2 large onions, chopped
5 large cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. cremini mushrooms, washed, stemmed and cut into about 3/8 in. sq. pieces
1 can Muir Glen (there I go again – you’d think I worked for Muir Glen, wouldn’t you?) Whole Fire Roasted Tomatoes, chopped coarsely (knife or food processor, whatever you feel.)
2/3 c. minced curly parsley
1 tsp. dried rosemary
3 T. tamari
1/2 c. dry red wine
generous amount of freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450. Place the chopped mushrooms on a baking sheet with a rim and dose with a generous drizzle of olive oil and season with salt. Toss together. Place in the preheated oven, and roast, stirring once or twice, for about 15 minutes, or until substantially shrunken in appearance. While the mushrooms are roasting, sauté the onions in olive oil until they are beginning to brown slightly. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes, parsley, and rosemary. When the mushrooms are finished roasting, add them into the sauce, along with the tamari, the wine, and the pepper. Simmer for as long as you can stand it – a couple hours is best – and serve over any good-quality chunky pasta. Farfalle or medium shells are good choices. Don’t insult it by showing up with angel hair. Make a big green salad and as M.F.K. Fisher says, (thanks Debbie) You Have Dined.

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