Mushroom Ragu

This is a recipe I came up with for a hearty and rich mushroom based ragu, suitable for vegans and vegetarians. This sauce is deeply savoury and satisfying; perfect for those  long wintery days and nights ahead.  It is delicious served with pasta or as a base for lasagne or cannelloni.

All the vegetables need to be finely diced, which is where a food processor comes in very handy. If you do not have one, get to work with a sharp knife!

Unless you have some that need using up, there is no need for expensive specialty mushrooms here; that is probably akin to a sin. I would however recommend using a mixture of mushrooms if possible for added texture and flavour. Portobello mushrooms in particular have that ‘meaty’ quality to them and umami flavour when cooked.

I make this in my pressure cooker, which really speeds up the cooking process. A high sided pan with a fitted lid also works fine, but will just take a little longer.

Serves – 6

prep time – 30 – 40 minutes

Cooking time – 30 minutes with a pressure cooker, 1 hour minimum in a saucepan.

Utensils

  • Chopping board
  • Sharp knife or food processor
  • Pressure cooker or high sided saucepan with a fitted lid

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 large stick of celery
  • 750g of mixed mushrooms – I used chestnut and portobello.
  • 4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 glass red wine / or 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sugar
  • 1 can of plum tomatoes
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 400 ml of water / veg or mushroom stock
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tsp sea salt
  • 150 ml olive oil

Method

  • Finely dice all the vegetables; garlic, onion, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Using a food processor usually I would add the garlic and onion together, then the carrot and celery together and the mushrooms last.
  • Warm the olive oil in the pan and add the garlic and onion. Allow them to soften slowly on a gentle heat but not colour for 5 minutes.
  • Add the carrot and celery at the same time, increase the heat and simmer together for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms to the pan. Move the mushrooms around the pan and mix well with the other ingredients, browning them.
  • Add the oregano, bay leaf, pepper and salt and combine.
  • Half place the lid on the pan, reduce the heat to low and simmer together for about 5 minutes.
  • Increase the heat again and add the glass of wine or vinegar and sugar. Stir the veg in the pan to incorporate the liquid.
  • Once it has absorbed / evaporated add the plum tomatoes and water / stock
  • **If you want to make a quick mushroom stock, pour 400ml of boiling water over 10g of dried mushrooms, mix well with a fork and leave for 5 minutes. Squeeze the dried mushrooms and then strain the liquid. You can finely chop the soaked mushrooms and add to your sauce**
  • Bring the contents of the pan to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, gently crushing the plum tomatoes with the back of your spoon. 
  • If you are using a pressure cooker, put on the lid and keep at high heat until the cooker starts to whistle and then reduce to a low heat for 30 minutes.
  • If you are using a saucepan, place the lid on the pan and reduce the heat to low for at least one hour.
  • After the cooking time is over, check the consistency of the sauce and add water if required or increase the heat and reduce the sauce if it is too thin. Season with salt / pepper to your taste.

Serve with pasta, basil and cheese