This dish—while a capable substitute for classic Bolognese—is not just for vegetarians. In fact, it’s an excellent stand-in for anyone interested in eating a little less meat without sacrificing flavor. Roasting brings out the true brown flavors of these fungi. Will you miss the meat? Not even a little.
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms (sliced)
- 1/2 pound wild mushroom mix (shiitakes also work well)
- 1/2 pound white button mushrooms (sliced)
- 1/4 cup, plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt (to taste)
- Fresh ground pepper (to taste)
- 1 medium-to-large carrot (roughly chopped)
- 1 white onion (roughly chopped)
- 1 clove garlic (sliced)
- 1 stalk of celery (roughly chopped)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon minced rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 pounds rigatoni (cooked to al dente and set aside)
Gather the ingredients. Preheat oven to 450 F.
Toss mushrooms with 3 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil until thoroughly coated. Spread out evenly in one layer on a baking tray (if mushrooms are too bulky, use two trays or do this in batches). Cook for 20 minutes, shaking the pan throughout cooking so that all sides are adequately browned. Season with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste. Set aside.
As the mushrooms are roasting, pulse together the carrot, onion, garlic, and celery in a food processor until finely chopped. Remove and set aside.
Once the mushrooms have cooled slightly, add them to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.
Using a large, heavy-bottomed pan or Dutch oven, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the celery-carrot-onion mixture to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until very soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.
Add the cooked, chopped mushrooms to the pan. Stir to combine.
Add the tomato paste, rosemary, and oregano. Stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, until the tomato paste has shed its bright red color and has lost its uncooked taste.
Add the red wine. Stir to deglaze the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the wine has reduced in volume by one quarter. Reduce heat to low.
Slowly add the milk. While stirring, making sure to get the bottom of the pan as you add in the milk. Grate in about a quarter of the whole nutmeg. Simmer the sauce over low heat stirring regularly, until the milk is fully absorbed.
When the milk is absorbed, but the sauce is still slightly loose, turn off the heat. Stir in the grated cheese and butter.
Transfer some of the sauce to a separate bowl that is large enough for the pasta and coat the pasta with the sauce until it is completely covered. Serve hot, with extra sauce on top, and with extra grated Parmesan, if desired.
- Avoid the urge to salt your mushrooms before roasting. Mushrooms retain a lot of moisture, which salt will cause them to drop, resulting in limp, steamed, and not-at-all-brown mushrooms.