It’s the first day of 2018. Unbelievable! Where has the time gone?
It seems like from Halloween to New Year’s Day that we’re inundated with sweets and holiday goodies, and by January 1 I’m ready for normal food. Everyday, simple good food. This Pasta with Mushroom Ragu for two is just that. A good, hearty meal full of good stuff.
This recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking for Two Cookbook – a cookbook that I’ve come to love. Every recipe I’ve tried from here has been so good and not too difficult to make. I do appreciate the tips and explanations, and the recipes have just enough chopping, simmering, and new techniques to keep me interested. This Pasta with Mushroom Ragu has chopped porcini and portobello mushrooms that make it almost meaty. The sauce is chunky and delicious and the simple seasonings are just right.
I made a couple of little changes to their recipe even though I know their recipes are just about perfect. The original called for pancetta and I used bacon because that’s what I have. I also used drained chopped tomatoes instead of whole peeled tomatoes and added a big pinch of red pepper flakes at the end. I think all Italian tomato sauces need that spicy kick, but it’s entirely optional.
If you read through the recipe a couple of times (always recommended) and get all of your ingredients measured, chopped and ready, it really doesn’t take very long to put together. We had a side of garlic-butter mini-naan bread and really enjoyed the meal. I recommend this for something a little different (meatless, too!) and satisfying.
****Really enjoyed this chunky, hearty mushroom ragu with pasta. Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Cooking for Two Cookbook.
- 1/2 C chicken broth
- 1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
- 1-2 slices (2 oz.) bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large portobello mushroom cap, gills removed and cut into 1/2" pieces*
- 2 garlic cloves, slice thinly
- 2 heaping tsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary or 1/4 tsp dried
- 1 (14.5 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped coarsely (I used drained diced tomatoes)
- red pepper flakes (just a pinch - optional)
- salt and pepper
- 5 oz spaghetti
- grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
Microwave the chicken broth and dried porcini mushrooms together in a medium bowl until steaming, about 1 minute. Let sit until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain the mushrooms through a fine strainer and reserve the broth, and finely chop the porcini mushrooms.
Add the chopped bacon to a 10" skillet over medium heat until bacon is crisp and rendered, 3 to 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium-low and add the chopped porcini, 1 tbsp. of olive oil, portobello mushroom, garlic, tomato paste, and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally until all liquid has evaporated and tomato paste starts to brown, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the reserved chicken/porcini broth and the drained tomatoes (and red pepper flakes if using), scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer and cook on low, stirring occasionally until thickened, 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 1 tsp. salt and cook, stirring often for about 9 minutes until pasta is al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain pasta and return it to the pot. Pour the sauce into the pasta and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste if needed. Adjust the consistency with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the pasta water as needed. Sprinkle with grated cheese before serving.
Tips and Stuff:
You can easily find dried porcini mushrooms and portobello mushrooms at your local grocery store.
*Do not forget to scrape off the dark mushroom gills with a spoon before chopping. They're not pleasant tasting.
Don't drain the grease off of the cooked bacon.
The original recipe called for 6 oz. of pasta, but that was a lot for two people, so I lowered it to 5 oz. You can weigh it on the kitchen scale I know you have and that no kitchen should be without (or you can just guess).
Start the pasta water boiling as soon as you begin simmering the sauce.