A hearty vegetarian mushroom bolognese served over fresh pappardelle with herbs and grated Parmesan. Jump to recipe.
You already know this, but it bears repeating: do not go out to eat on Valentine’s day. Just don’t. If you, like me, mark special moments with a nice meal out, go another day. A day when you’ll be seated on time for your reservation and aren’t limited to three choices on a pricy prix fixe menu. Valentine’s proper is best spent at home with a nice bottle of wine, a satisfying yet low-maintenance dinner, and something rich for dessert.
At our house, we’re planning something simple and delicious. It restores my longtime easy dinner default – pasta – to its rightful place as an ingredient to be savored. For special occasions, I used to make my own. You can do this too, but I’ve found my results are much better all around when I leave the fresh pasta to the professionals. Instead I’m focusing on the adornment to my local Italian market’s beautiful pasta, a rich vegetarian mushroom bolognese. Listen – I know the good people of Bologna will frown on my meatless spin – but in the middle of a cold winter, it feels like a coup to put so many vegetables at the center of a sauce rather than the typical meats. The sauce itself is heavy on the mushrooms, along with carrots, celery, and turnips, plus wine and cream and Parmesan. The thing that sends it over the top, though, is a hint of fresh rosemary and thyme. It’s rich and satisfying and sets off the bite of fresh pappardelle perfectly.
A hearty vegetarian mushroom bolognese served over fresh pappardelle. This recipe was inspired by and adapted from recipes on Sprouted Kitchen and Food & Wine.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 carrots, scrubbed and finely diced
- 1 celery rib, finely diced
- 1 small turnip, peeled, trimmed, and finely diced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- sea salt
- 1 cup red wine
- 6 tablespoons tomato paste (about 3 ounces)
- 1/2 pound tree oyster mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced
- 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems discarded and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon finely minced rosemary, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon finely mined thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1 pound wide ribbon noodles such as pappardelle, tagliatelle, or fettuccine
Set a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add olive oil; when it starts to shimmer, add onion, carrots, celery, turnip, red pepper flakes, and several pinches sea salt. (Flavors will concentrate as dish cooks and t's best salted a little at a time.) Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
Pour in wine and tomato paste, and stir. Fold in mushrooms, garlic, a pinch of sea salt, and water. Heat mixture until it bubbles gently, then turn down to medium-low and cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook paste to al dente. Reserve several cups pasta water for plating.
Just before serving, stir in Parmesan, cream, and herbs, and cook 5 minutes. Taste, and adjust salt levels as needed.
Twist pasta onto plates, using a splash of pasta water as needed to loosen it, and top with several spoonfuls bolognese. Top with grated Parmesan and a pinch of minced fresh herbs. Serve immediately.
Brian @ A Thought For Food says
Amen to that. We made the mistake of going out on Valentine’s Day and learned that it’s a terrible night to dine out. We’d much rather put together something at home. Usually it involves lobster and Champagne, sometimes I whip together some fresh pasta (and toss the lobster with it :-))
Wishing you and yours a very lovely, romantic Valentine’s Day.
Coming from someone who works in the restaurant industry – totally with you 100% on not going out for Valentine’s Day! Cooking at home is, without a doubt, so much more rewarding.
I’m definitely going to save this one. 🙂
Glad you agree Dana. Hope you won’t be stuck at work this Valentine’s Day – I have to imagine working the thing is a special kind of hell.
I think you’ve done the traditional Bolognese proud. Not too tomatoey and not too saucy, with the perfect amount of texture and aromatics. When I return home from Bologna I will make this promptly. All the love + happy love day, xx!
Gloria M. says
It’s entirely possible that my winter dried-out eyes just missed it, but…is adding the tomato paste missing from the directions? Please help, this recipe is so clearly a must make! I already pinned it and everything.
Good catch Gloria! Just fixed the recipe. I’m so glad you’re excited to cook it. Please do keep me posted!
Gloria M. says
It was outstanding!!! I was forced to slightly adapt it for the sake of the anti-vegetarian in my house 😉 so I added a pound of (organic, pasture-raised) beef and doubled all the liquids. We loved it!! I’m thrilled to have such a healthy and relatively easy recipe to add to my rotation. 🙂 Also…THANK YOU for introducing the anti-pasta person in my house to a pasta he actually loves!! Made this pasta-craving girl so happy. 😀
Tux | Brooklyn Homemaker says
god that looks SO GOOD!!! I think I know what I’ll be making for valentines’ dinner!
This pasta sounds so wonderful! I love that hearty sauce!
Michelle @ Hummingbird High says
ugh, going out for valentine’s day dinner = amateur hour. who wants to deal with the crowds and the overpriced, limited prix fixe menus? not me. i’d rather have this pasta any day, everyday.
Mary-Clay | The Open Oven says
mmm, bolognese is one of my favorite things. and I don’t think I’d miss the meat in this! mushrooms soaked in wine (and other fun things)… what could be better? happy valentine’s day to y’all!
As a professional cook, I completely agree. The staff is going to flustered and overworked. It’s going to be crowded and busy and filled with people who don’t tip, which leads to grouchy servers. It’s going to be a mess. Stay home, cook something special, and if you still want to eat out for Valentine’s Day, go next weekend.
Also mushroom bolognese? Yes.
Rachel B says
This was excellent…my new favorite from your blog (actually tied with Thai style coconut curry !)