This killer Mushroom Ragu recipe is a hearty, savory, robust Italian comfort dish and completely vegetarian! To achieve the richest and earthy mushroom taste, Lidia Bastianich uses fragrant aromatics like onions and fresh thyme in a porcini-infused stock. Here's our version of her Ragu di Funghi Misti - or Mushroom Ragu!
Do you want a fabulous vegetarian dinner? This meatless, rich-tasting mushroom ragu recipe is comforting and filling, and is one of our absolute favorite foods to cook and devour!
What is Ragu sauce?
"Ragu" is a general name for a rich, slow-cooked Italian beef sauce. Ragu is a robust, insanely delicious dish where the meat is the star, unlike a tomato sauce or marinara, where the tomatoes are typically the star. In that regard, it resembles stew almost more than typical Italian sauces.
Ragu generally is eaten with pasta, gnocchi, or polenta, just like marinara or tomato sauce. You may have already tasted Bolognese, arguably the most well-known ragu, without even realizing it.
Obviously, this isn't your traditional Ragu sauce, but for sobbing out loud, vegetarians have to be able to enjoy this sauce too!
Ragu .VS. Bolognese
If you thought they were the same, they're not.
The robust meat sauce called "Ragu" is created from ground meat, vegetables, wine, and some tomatoes.
Bolognese is a form of Ragu. Bolognese is a regional variety made in the Bologna fashion, hence the name Ragù Bolognese. Ragu is also thicker than bolognese.
What are the ingredients for Mushroom Ragu?
To make this Mushroom Ragu Recipe, you'll need:
- Fresh mixed mushrooms
- Porcini mushrooms
- Fresh thyme
- Fresh rosemary
- Fresh sage
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Tomato paste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Hot turkey or vegetable broth
Let's talk about mushrooms
There are many types of mushrooms used in this recipe. Some specialty grocers sell mixed packages, so you can look for those, or select at least three types.
We use White Button and Cremini/Baby Bellas which are easily found all year round. Then we add a combination of Shiitakes, Maitake/Hen of the Woods, Oyster & Enoki, depending on what looks good at the market. King Trumpet mushrooms or Chantrelles also add fabulous flavor to the sauce.
This recipe also calls for dried Porcini mushrooms. The Porcini mushroom has a meaty texture and a strong flavor that is deep, woodsy, and nutty. These mushrooms can withstand intense flavors like grilled steak despite having a delicate flavor and a robust enough body to be used in brown sauces.
My advice for mushroom shopping- whatever is available & looks good.
Soaking Porcini Mushrooms
Before using dried Porcini mushrooms, they must be rehydrated with water. This technique produces both the mushrooms and their fragrant soaking liquid, both of which are wonderful.
This is a great vegetarian sauce, very complex and satisfying, It’s excellent for pasta, baked in a lasagna or polenta pasticciata, cooked into risotto—or as a condiment for grilled steak or fish. The mushrooms you can buy at the supermarket will make a fine sauce—if you have fresh wild mushrooms it will be even better. In either case, dried porcini provide key elements for this sauce (and many others).
How many servings does this recipe make?
This Mushroom Ragu Recipe makes 6 cups of delicious sauce.
Mushroom Ragu: Lidia's Ragu di Funghi Misti
- 2 ½ pound fresh mixed mushrooms small and firm
- ½ ounce dried porcini soaked in 1 1/1 cups warm water
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary a tender stem about 4-inches long
- 1 sprig fresh sage with 4 big leaves
- ¼ cup olive oil extra-virgin
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup shallots finely chopped
- 1 medium onion finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- ½ teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- ⅓ cup tomato paste
- 1 cup dry Marsala or other dry red wine
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups hot turkey or vegetable broth
Prepping the Ingredients
- Squeeze out the soaked porcini and slice them into pieces about ¼-inch wide. Strain the soaking water and keep it in a warm spot.
- Clean, trim and slice the fresh mushrooms into moderately thin slices, barely ¼-inch wide.
- Tie all the fresh herb sprigs together with piece of kitchen twine or enclose the leaves in cheesecloth.
Cooking the Sauce
- Put the oil and butter in the big skillet (or other saucepan) and place over medium heat. When the butter melts, dump in the onions and shallots and ¼ teaspoon of salt and stir well. Heat the onions to a slow sizzle and cook for 6 minutes or more-stirring often-until they're soft, wilted and shiny, without any browning.
- Pour all the mushrooms into the pan-both the chopped porcini and sliced mushrooms-spread and toss them in the pan. Sprinkle another ¼ teaspoon salt, drop in the herb bouquet, toss briefly, raise the heat a bit and cover the pan. Cook covered for about 3 minutes-shake the pan now and then- to sweat the mushrooms.
- Uncover and continue to cook over fairly high heat, stirring frequently, as the mushrooms shrink and the liquid evaporates, 5 minutes or more. When the pan is dry and the mushrooms begin to brown, clear a hot spot, drop in the tomato paste and toast it, stirring, for a minute or so, then stir it into the mushrooms.
- When everything is sizzling and browning again, and just starting to stick, pour the Marsala all over. Stir constantly as the wine thickens and evaporates. When the mushrooms again start sticking to the bottom, pour in the warm mushroom water and 2 cups of the hot stock. Bring to an active boil, stirring up any caramelization on the pan bottom. Lower the heat to keep the sauce bubbling gently all over the surface and cover the pan. Cook for about 20 minutes, occasionally stirring and adding stock to keep the mushrooms nearly covered in liquid; expect to add ½ cup or so. Adjust the heat to keep the perking steady but not too rapid.
- Uncover the pan and cook for another 20 minutes, maintaining the simmer and adding stock as needed. When mushrooms are thoroughly tender and the saucy liquid thickened-but not too condensed-the sauce is done. Remove the herb bouquet and discard it (after you scrape off all the good sauce). Taste and add salt, if needed, and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Use the sauce immediately or let it cool. Store it in the refrigerator for a week or freeze, for use within several months.
Best Lidia Bastianich books:
Lidia is one of our favorite Italian chefs - you can learn more about her life in her biography, My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family and Food. Born to Italian family in Croatia, Lidia's story is truly inspiring, incredible and deeply interesting. O, the Oprah Magazine said it's a: “memoir as rich and complex as her mushroom ragú" - which seems deeply appropriate here.
Lidia has written several amazing cookbooks, but our favorites are Lidia's a Pot, a Pan and a Bowl: Simple Recipes for Perfect Meals and Lidia's Favorite Recipes: 100 Foolproof Italian Dishes. Both are easy to use, fun to read, and offer easy to understand hearty Italian recipes.
Want to try out more delicious mushroom recipes?? Check these out:
A delicious alternative to traditional lasagna, this White Lasagna recipe bakes up cheesy, rich and packed with veggies. Make it a day ahead for your next party!
Like the casserole, but better. This sautéed green beans recipe pairs the fresh veggies with savory mushrooms and crispy shallots for a dish that you'll probably want to double.
A healthy dose of fresh thyme and parsley along with a variety of mushrooms ensure a complex flavor that will satisfy meat eaters and vegetarians alike!
Get ready to shroom with this easy and tasty roasted mushroom recipe. You’ll learn to create perfectly roasted mushrooms, either as a side or for any of your favorite dishes.
Frequently Asked Questions About This Mushroom Ragu Recipe:
The Ragù recipe originated as a beef dish in Renaissance France and later made its way to the Neapolitan Bourbon court before spreading all over Italy. Nobility set fashion, clothing, and even culinary trends in those days. Today, one of the most well-known and renowned dishes is ragù bolognese.
Although they are considered vegetables, mushrooms belong to the fungi kingdom and are not plants. They do, however, share several traits with both plants and even animals! Mushrooms are incredibly low in salt, nearly fat- and cholesterol-free, and low in calories.