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Recipe  •  28 June 2022

 

Porcini ragù

Mushroom lovers rejoice! This flavour-packed vegetarian main dish from the co-author of bestselling Ottolenghi FLAVOUR, Ixta Belfrage, is sure to impress.

I’m not sure if you’re allowed to call a sauce that doesn’t contain meat, doesn’t start with a soffritto, and that only cooks for 10 minutes a ragù, and yet because of the concentrated flavour of the dried porcini, this has all the intensity of a meat ragù that has simmered for hours. Anyone who has made the spicy mushroom lasagne from Ottolenghi FLAVOUR will realise what I’m trying to achieve here: an abridged version of that ragù with the same intensity but without the hours chopping kilos of mushrooms (yes, I heard you!). This recipe is inspired by two of my favourite dishes at Ristorante Pizzeria Acone near where I grew up in Tuscany – penne all’Aconese and tagliatelle alla Beppa.

Serves 2 as a main with leftovers or 4 as a starter

  • 40g dried porcini
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 3 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped (not crushed!)
  • ½ teaspoon chilli flakes (or less if you prefer)
  • 10g fresh parsley (stalks and leaves), finely chopped, plus extra to serve
  • 1/3 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1½ tablespoons tomato purée/paste
  • about 50 twists of freshly ground black pepper
  • 250g dried tagliatelle nests
  • 40g Parmesan, very finely grated, plus extra to serve
  • 3 tablespoons double cream

In a medium bowl, cover the porcini with boiling water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 75g of the soaking liquid. Very finely chop the porcini to mince consistency, then set aside.

Put the oil, garlic, chilli flakes, parsley and fine salt into a cold, large sauté pan on a medium-low heat. Very gently fry for 5 minutes until soft and lightly golden, turning the heat down if the garlic starts to brown.

Increase the heat to medium-high, then add the chopped porcini, tomato purée/paste and plenty of pepper. Stir-fry for 3 minutes, then set the pan aside while you boil the pasta.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for about 6 minutes, until al dente. Drain, reserving 350g of the pasta water.

Return the sauté pan with the porcini to a medium-high heat, then add the 350g of pasta water and the reserved 75g of porcini soaking liquid. Stir, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, leave to bubble away for 3 minutes. Add half the Parmesan to the pan, stirring until it has melted before adding the rest. Lower the heat to medium, then stir in the cream, followed by the drained tagliatelle. Toss over the heat until the pasta and sauce have emulsified – about 1½ minutes.

Remove from the heat and serve at once, finished with as much extra oil and Parmesan as your heart desires.

Vegan option

You can easily make this vegan by using plant-based cheese and cream.

Notes

It’s always good to have all your prep done before you start cooking, but it’s especially important with this recipe, as things happen rather quickly. Make sure you have your porcini soaked and finely chopped, garlic and parsley finely chopped, and your Parmesan finely grated before you turn the heat on.

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MEZCLA Ixta Belfrage

Reinventing 'fusion' flavours with fun, flavour-packed recipes to cook for yourself and others, from the co-author of bestselling Ottolenghi FLAVOUR. For fans of Alison Roman, Nigella Lawson and Anna Jones.

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