As the title suggests, this recipe is EPIC! It’s full of good stuff, like porcini mushrooms and miso paste; the walnuts give some added bite and help make it even more nutritious; and it's just so tasty.
Mushrooms of all kinds, even button, are incredibly good for you, and I'm always looking for new ways to include them in my family’s diets without one particular member noticing...! Here, I've used chestnut, but you can substitute them with your favourite variety of mushroom, if you like.
The way you serve this recipe is up to you: here, I've folded it into some leftover home-made pasta, but my favourite way to eat it is stuffed into giant conchiglioni, or pasta shells, topped with vegan cheese, and baked until the cheese is bubbling and bits of the pasta are crunchy and toasted.
My husband once told me I need to jar this ragu and sell it. Maybe he's right, but I'll let you guys be the judge of that!
40g dried porcini mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2-3 bay leaves
A few sprigs thyme
250g walnuts, finely chopped
500g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 heaped tbsp white miso paste
1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
100ml red wine (optional)
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tamari sauce
Pasta of your choice (85g dried per person)
Toasted pine nuts
Fresh basil leaves
1. Place the porcini mushrooms in a jug and top with 500ml boiling water. Stir, then set aside for 15 mins.
2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish over a medium heat, and add the onion, celery, carrot, bay leaves, and sprigs of thyme. Cook gently, stirring regularly, until the vegetables are soft, and the onions are translucent and lightly caramelised.
3. Drain the porcini mushrooms into a bowl, keeping the liquid – it's full of flavour. Finely chop the mushrooms, and set aside.
4. When the vegetables are softened, stir in the garlic and cook for another minute or two, or until fragrant.
5. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the chopped chestnut mushrooms and walnuts. Cook until the mushrooms start to release their juices, stirring regularly – this should take around 5 mins.
6. Stir in the porcini mushrooms, then add the miso paste and tomato purée, stir to combine, and cook for a minute or two.
7. Add the red wine, if using, and stir continuously, until the alcohol has evaporated. Add the porcini liquid, chopped tomatoes and tamari, stir well to combine, and season generously with salt and black pepper. Bring to boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer.
8. Cook for 30 mins to 1 hour, stirring regularly. If the ragu is starting to look a little dry, half-fill the empty tomato tin with water, swirl, and add to the pan. You could also use vegetable stock, if you prefer. If you're making this dish earlier in the day, you can turn the heat off after an hour, cover, and reheat at dinner time.
9. Serve with whichever pasta you like, topped with toasted pine nuts, a grating of vegan parmesan, and a few fresh basil leaves.
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