Every month I look forward to the arrival of my new Food & Wine magazine. The covers are always tantalizing. The celebrity Q&A surprises me most months as I assume all celebrities never actually do anything as mundane for themselves as cooking. And the Editors' Top 10 Objects. There are usually at least one or two items I'm not sure how I ever lived with out. Really. Seriously. I DO need the "Chicken Shaped" Food jewelry. See March 2016 pg 18. (A blatant hint for my dear husband)
Page 86 of the March issue. Mushroom Bolognese! The photo of the dish in the magazine made me warm and fuzzy. It sent me back. Transported me to a comfortable, safe haven; Saturday dinners with Dad. As a teen, I remember Dad and I making Kraft Italian Style Spaghetti from a box. We always doctored up the the recipe, adding meat and more mushrooms and more spices. It was a fun bonding time of father and daughter. Page 86 reminded me of my comfort food but without the meat.
The next best thing about this recipe is it required very little altering to fit our dietary restrictions (elimination of the sugar ingredient and the use of gluten free pasta) and some of its ingredients could, in some form, come from my very own garden! Fresh carrots, baby eggplant and tomatoes, tomatoes. tomatoes! Doesn't it taste better when you've grown it yourself!
1/4 cup dried Porcini mushrooms
6 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 baby eggplant (8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 lb. Cremini mushrooms, one-fourth sliced, the rest cut into 1/4-inch dice (FYI, Cremini and Baby Bellas are the same thing. Who knew? Not me.)
8 ounces Shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps cut into 1/4-inch dice
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon white Miso
One 2-inch chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus grated cheese for serving
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
1 thyme sprig
12 ounces brown rice spaghetti
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
In a small bowl, cover the Porcini with 1 cup of boiling water; soak until softened, about 30 minutes. Finely chop the Porcini, discarding any tough bits. Pour off and reserve 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid.
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and carrots and cook over moderate heat until light golden, about 8 minutes. Add the eggplant and 2 tablespoons of the oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 minutes. Stir in the Cremini, shiitake, chopped Porcini and the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste and Miso and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chunk of cheese, the tomatoes and their juices, the thyme, and reserved mushroom soaking liquid and bring to a simmer.
Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is very thick, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Discard the thyme sprig; season the sauce with salt and pepper.
In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
Add the pasta, pasta water and parsley to the sauce; toss to coat. Serve in bowls, topped with grated cheese. Perfect on a chilly night!