Garlicky Mushroom Bolognese with Fettuccine

published Feb 2, 2021
Garlicky Mushroom Bolognese

A savory, one-pot recipe for vegetarian mushroom bolognese with fettuccine.

Serves4 to 6

Prep40 minutes

Cook30 minutes to 35 minutes

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mushroom bolognese fettuccini is in a bowl, garnished with parmesan cheese and a fork in it
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

When I think of the ultimate comfort food, I think of a hearty Sunday sauce bubbling away on the stovetop. I can practically smell the carrots, celery, and onions mingling with a flavorful cut of meat in a large Dutch oven, slowly transforming into a rich and hearty pasta sauce.

But why should this comfort be reserved for meat-eaters? And why does it need to take all day? That’s where this Bolognese comes in. It’s everything I love about a classic, slow-cooked Bolognese — without the meat (and in a little less time, too). Its surprising depth of flavor and meditative cooking process has helped me fall back in love with cooking, and I’m certain it can do the same for you, too.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

Dried Mushrooms Are the Secret to an Ultra-Savory Bolognese

In addition to fresh cremini mushrooms, this Bolognese is made with rehydrated porcini mushrooms and their soaking liquid. The dried mushrooms give the sauce an ultra-savory boost that greatly amps up the flavor of the fresh mushrooms. If you’ve never cooked with dried mushrooms before, it’s easy: A 20-minute soak in hot water is all they need to rehydrate. As they soak, you can prep the rest of your ingredients.

When you’re ready to cook the mushrooms, don’t rush it — they need an ample amount of time to develop a savory flavor. At first it will look like they’ve released a lot of liquid, but this is normal; it will eventually cook off, leaving you with deeply browned and intensely flavorful mushrooms.

You can find dried mushrooms in most well-stocked grocery stores in the international section or near the spices. Some grocery stores offer several varieties, but porcini are the most common and what’s used in this recipe.

Read more: How To Prepare Dried Mushrooms for Cooking

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

If you want to make this recipe vegan, feel free to use a non-dairy milk (such as unsweetened plain oat, coconut, or almond milk) in place of the cream, swap the butter for olive oil, and omit the cheese. It might not be as creamy, but it will be just as flavorful.

As for serving, I love any long noodle like fettuccine. But if your pasta isn’t your thing, you can serve this Bolognese over a bowl of soft polenta for an equally hearty meal.

Garlicky Mushroom Bolognese

A savory, one-pot recipe for vegetarian mushroom bolognese with fettuccine.

Prep time 40 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes to 35 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups

    boiling water, plus more for cooking the pasta

  • 1 ounce

    dried porcini mushrooms (about 3/4 cup)

  • 3 cloves

    garlic

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 1

    large carrot

  • 2

    medium celery stalks

  • 1 pound

    fresh cremini mushrooms

  • 2 teaspoons

    fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 teaspoon

    fresh rosemary leaves

  • 2 ounces

    Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup or 1/2 cup store-bought grated), divided

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can

    whole tomatoes (or half a 28-ounce can)

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 cup

    dry red wine

  • 1/2 cup

    whole milk

  • 1 pound

    dried fettuccine pasta

Instructions

  1. Place 1 1/2 cups boiling water and 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (about 3/4 cup) in a medium heatproof bowl and let soak for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce ingredients.

  2. Prepare the following, placing them all in the same medium bowl: Mince 3 garlic cloves (about 1 tablespoon), dice 1 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups), peel and dice 1 large carrot (about 3/4 cup), and dice 2 medium celery stalks (about 1 cup).

  3. Place 1 pound fresh cremini mushrooms in a large bowl. Smash with your hands to create small (about 1/4-inch) crumbles (about 3 1/2 cups). Finely chop until you have 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves and 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, and add both to the bowl of mushrooms. If needed, finely grate 2 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup).

  4. When the dried porcini mushrooms are ready, drain but reserve the soaking liquid. Finely chop the mushrooms.

  5. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until the butter is melted. Add the garlic mixture and cook until the vegetables are softened, fragrant, and just starting to brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the cremini mushroom mixture, porcini mushrooms, 1 (14.5-ounce) can whole tomatoes with their juices, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

  6. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often and smashing the tomatoes so they fall apart, until there is no liquid remaining in the bottom of the pot, the mushrooms are dark brown, and the pot has a few brown bits stuck to the bottom, 16 to 20 minutes. (At first it will look like the mushrooms have released a lot of liquid, but this is normal. The liquid will eventually cook off.) If the bottom of the pot starts to burn during cooking, add a tablespoon of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid and continue cooking. Don’t rush this part. The mushrooms need a long time to develop a savory flavor.

  7. Add 1/2 cup dry red wine and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Cook until the wine has almost completely evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the reserved mushroom soaking liquid (leave any mushroom sediment behind) and 1/2 cup whole milk. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bolognese is thick, darkened in color slightly, and the liquid has reduced by half, 6 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

  8. Add 1/4 of the grated Parmesan cheese to the sauce and stir until melted. Taste and season the bolognese with more kosher salt as needed. Reduce the heat to low to keep it warm. Add 1 pound dried fettuccine to the pot of boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and add it to the bolognese. Turn the heat off and toss to coat the pasta. Serve immediately with the remaining Parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days. The sauce can also be frozen up to 2 months.