Family pasta night is one of the great American food traditions. I grew up eating a meaty red sauce, but now that so many of my family members are eating more vegetarian and vegan meals, mostly for overall health reasons, we are getting creative about what we eat when everyone gets together.
This mushroom bolognese from America’s Test Kitchen’s new book, “Vegan for Everybody: Foolproof Plant-Based Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and In-Between” (America’s Test Kitchen, $29.95), is an ideal dish for such a crowd. It’s kid- and cook-friendly. You can make the sauce ahead of time and reheat while you make the pasta.
Few will miss the meat. Two types of mushrooms help replicate the complex textures of a traditional bolognese while adding a similar depth of flavor along with the soy sauce, tomato paste and red wine. The real trick here is adding soy creamer to round out the sauce. You can substitute with other types of unsweetened dairy-free creamers or even a regular heavy cream if no one in your crowd is vegan.
2 pounds cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons unsweetened soy creamer
1 pound dried fettuccine or linguine
Working in batches, pulse cremini mushrooms in food processor until pieces are no larger than 1/2 inch, 5 to 7 pulses; transfer to large bowl. Pulse carrot and onion in now-empty processor until finely chopped, 5 to 7 pulses; transfer to bowl with processed mushrooms. Pulse tomatoes and their juice until finely chopped, 6 to 8 pulses; set aside separately.
Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add processed vegetables and minced porcini mushrooms, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to medium-high, and cook until vegetables begin to brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
Stir in garlic and sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Stir in wine and simmer until nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add processed tomatoes, broth, soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce has thickened but is still moist, 8 to 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in soy creamer.
Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot. Add sauce and toss to combine. Adjust consistency with reserved cooking water as needed, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. Serves 4 to 6.
— From “Vegan for Everybody: Foolproof Plant-Based Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and In-Between” by America’s Test Kitchen (America’s Test Kitchen, $29.95)