Looking For a Weeknight Dinner? Try Wine-Spiked Mushroom Bolognese

Pasta Bolognese doesn’t need to be a heavy-duty meal. Lighten things up with mushrooms.

There’s more to wine than sips by the glass. This month, we’re partnering with Sara Forte of Sprouted Kitchen to share tips, insights and recipes featuring wine as the main ingredient.

Even if you are not a vegetarian, there is something magical about the stand-alone meaty goodness of mushrooms. When it comes to Bolognese, why not try skipping the meat and instead letting mushrooms and wine add the flavor?

Trust us: Deep, earthy mushrooms can add enough richness to make you forget this is a meat-free version of the classic. Compound that with a splash of red wine, and you’ve got your new favorite dish.

This Bolognese sauce can be done a few different ways: try pairing the mushrooms with lentils mixed in, or with ground turkey for a lighter take on the meat variety. Either way, if well-seasoned, it’s the perfect meal for a cool night in.

When it comes time to pick up your ingredients, go for mushrooms that are easy to find at the grocery store, and shy away from Asian mushrooms like a shitake. A morel or truffle, while delicious on its own, will get lost in this sauce, so stick with the less expensive varieties. For the tomato paste and sauce, look for something along the lines of the San Marzano tomato sauce products -- they tend to have the least “tinny” flavor. And with the veggies, always go for freshness.

Because vegetables don’t typically have the depth of flavor meat does, acids and fat really help bring this recipe to life. The wine and tomato paste contribute a lot to the acid that the sauce needs to make it so tasty. Also, expect the wine to cook off a bit while simmering, absorbing back into the mushrooms to make them even more flavorful.

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That said, there’s no denying that a lot of the fat that makes a traditional Bolognese so flavorful is lost when replacing the meat with mushrooms. To remedy this, stir in a few tablespoons of crème fraiche at the end, just to keep things rich and silky. This step is optional, but a good decision. A generous sprinkle of parmesan on top does the trick as well.

Of course, the sauce can go over any pasta: Stir it in with fusilli for a more toddler-friendly option, or over tagliatelle or spaghetti for grown-up eaters.

Mixed Mushroom Bolognese Over Pasta

Because this recipe only calls for a 1/2 cup, I open a wine that I will want to drink with my pasta, which is typically a cabernet or pinot noir.  –Sara

Servings: 4



2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, finel chopped

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

16 ounces mixed mushrooms (button, portobello, crimini), cleaned, stemmed and chopped

2 ounces tomato paste

1/3 cup whole milk

1/2 cup dry red wine

3/4 cup canned tomato or marinara sauce

1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped

Pinch of red pepper flakes

2-3 tablespoon creme fraiche, optional

3/4 lb. pasta of choice (tagliatelle, spaghetti or angel hair)

Fresh grated parmesan cheese, for garnish

Fresh parsley and oregano, for garnish


In a large dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Once hot, add the chopped onion, celery, carrot and garlic and cook for 5-10 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the butter, mushrooms and a few pinches of sea salt. Stir and cook the mushrooms down, stirring occasionally, until most of their water is cooked out. About 6 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, milk and wine. Stir and cook again for another 15 minutes to reduce, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato or marinara sauce, herbs, fennel and red pepper flakes, and taste for salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low and let it keep warm on the back burner. The texture should be saucy but not soupy, continue to cook if you’d like it thicker. Stir in the crème fraiche, if using.

Cook your pasta according to instructions. Drain out most of the water, leaving just enough to keep the pasta from drying out. Serve each bowl with a portion of pasta, sauce, parmesan and fresh herbs.

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