Comfort in a bowl – This hearty, vegetarian mushroom bolognese with sweet potato and spinach is the perfect make ahead meal that is sure to warm your heart and soul this cold winter season.
On a frigid, ready-to-drop-from-exhaustion kinda day, I either eat a bowl of cereal and call it a night or gravitate towards a steaming bowl of healthy comfort food…and some cheese. While the latter is a much more satisfying and nourishing option, what’s more convenient than pouring cereal and milk into a bowl? Well..nothing really, but add an extra step of pressing a few buttons on a microwave, and you can have yourself a substantial meal. And that’s what I bring to you today. Now when I’m making a pasta dish, I like to make a huge pot of sauce (this time a vegetarian mushroom bolognese) over the weekend and keep the cooked pasta (drizzled in some olive oil and stored in a tupperware) so that it can be enjoyed as a quick, comforting weeknight meal. It just so happens that I prefer eating the sauce the next day as the flavors have more fully matured.
In Korean cooking, we use a lot of dried mushrooms, especially “pyogo busut” or shiitake. For this dish, I used the European/American variety, porcini mushrooms. I must admit, the dried mushrooms are a bit on the pricier side, BUT they add an incredible amount of flavor. Simply reconstitute them with hot water and watch the magic happen! You’ll immediately catch a whiff of the concentrated aroma that screams umami. Add both the mushrooms and the soaking liquid into the pot, and their meaty/savory texture and flavor contributions more than make up for the not-so-appetizing brownish hue they add to the dish.
Have you tried quinoa pasta? I normally purchase mine from Trader Joe’s, and I’ve become absolutely obsessed. I mean, not only is the taste similar to regular pasta, but it’s a great way to add extra protein to a dish like this vegetarian one. I served the dish with some grated parmesan and basil for freshness. Earthy and rich, this really is perfect for when you’re needing something stick-to-your-ribs good. The mushrooms take center stage as the bold essence of the soaking liquid resonates throughout the sauce. Chock full of nutrients and flavor, what’s not to love?
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 ½ cups water
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion peeled and chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 cups diced sweet potatoes 1/2 in. cubes
- 1 large Portobello mushroom cap gills scraped, cut into ¼ in. cubes
- 1 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water removed
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 1 28 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 pound pasta of choice I used quinoa penne
- Fresh basil
- Place dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with 1 ½ cups boiling water. Allow the mushrooms to soften, about 30 minutes. Scoop out, strain, and chop mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid.
- Place the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped vegetables, salt, pepper and oregano, and cook until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add porcini mushrooms, fresh mushrooms and tomato paste, stirring, and cook until mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Add porcini mushroom liquid and red wine. Cook until wine is reduced, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta until al dente. Drain and toss with sauce. Top with cheese and basil, and serve!