The next Dinner Divas recipe is a Giada recipe for vegetable bolognese. I really enjoyed this sauce. You have to be a mushroom lover to enjoy it, though, which my husband and I both are. It’s really quick, too – you could easily make this on a weeknight. The main change I made was to use creme fraiche instead of mascarpone. I think mascarpone can be too sweet at times, plus I probably wouldn’t have found a use for the second half of the tub and it would have gone to waste. At first, I thought of substituting heavy cream, but when I saw that there was a substantial amount of wine in the sauce, I figured it would curdle. Luckily, the stars aligned and the week I decided to make this was also the week that my regular grocery store decided to start carrying creme fraiche. If you don’t know what creme fraiche is, it’s not as fancy as it sounds. It’s a slightly soured cream, kind of like sour cream, but not nearly as sour and not quite as firm. The awesome advantage of it is that you can add it cold to a hot sauce, even one containing an acid like wine, and it won’t curdle. I thought it made for a perfect substitution in this dish.
Other changes: I used fresh tri-colored linguine instead of dried rigatoni. I used dried thyme and oregano in place of fresh, simply because I can’t ever use up a whole package of those fresh herbs (maybe next year when I have a garden), and I added sliced basil for extra freshness.
This dish was a great way to transition into fall cooking on a day that was cold and rainy from the remnants of Hurricane Faye.
Adapted from: Giada deLaurentiis, Food Network
Tri-Colored Pasta with Vegetable Bolognese
1-ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
½ large Vidalia onion, peeled and sliced into pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
3 oz. crème fraiche
12 oz. package fresh tri-colored pasta (a pound would be a better fit for the amount of sauce, but the fresh pasta never seems to come in 1 lb. packages)
Large handful of fresh basil leaves, sliced thin
1/4 cup parmesan
1. Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with 1 ½ cups very hot tap water. Set aside and let the mushrooms soften for 30 minutes.
2. Place the carrots, onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a food processor. Process the vegetables until finely chopped but still chunky. Place the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chopped vegetables, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper and cook until tender, about 6 minutes.
3. Strain the porcini mushrooms, reserving the porcini mushroom liquid. Slice any porcinis that are too large. Add the porcini mushrooms, fresh mushrooms, and tomato paste and continue cooking, stirring to dissolve the tomato paste, until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the porcini mushroom liquid and red wine. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer until the liquid is reduced somewhat, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir in crème fraiche and half of the sliced basil and stir to incorporate.
5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Drain pasta and serve in shallow bowls topped with sauce. Garnish with remaining basil and parmesan.
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