Wild Mushroom Ragu with Creamy Polenta


Glamourising vegetarian food, one dish at a time…

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After moving to Australia and travelling around the world, I have noticed how underrated good vegetarian food is. For some reason the vegetarian culinary repertoire across most restaurants rarely showcase delicious fresh produce or out of the box cooking techniques. I am no masterchef but I suppose having been a vegetarian for 27+ years I can definitely put up a cracker of a vegetarian dish sure to give even some of the meat dishes a run for its money.

Today’s dish is definitely one that will even knock the socks of an avid carnivore! Ragu traditionally is a slow cooked Italian meat based sauce served with pasta. However since I am all about challenging traditions in the kitchen, my ragu recipe is quick and easy and above all vegetarian!

I have used a medley of Mushrooms as a star of this dish. A mixture of fresh and dried mushrooms provides an abundance of different textures and deep mushroom flavor. I haved served the stew with a creamy polenta, believe me when I say it’s a match made in heaven.

So without further ado, here’s my lip smackingly delicious autumn winter classic.

Ingredients:  18  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves:

For the Ragu

  • 20 gms of dried Porcini mushrooms
  • 200 gms of sliced swiss brown mushrooms
  • 100 gms of shimeji mushrooms 
  • One brown onion, chopped
  • Five to six pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • Eight to ten parsley stems, finely chopped
  • 10 to 12 sprigs of fresh lemon thyme
  • Two tablespoons of goats cheese (optional)
  • 300ml of light cooking cream
  • Three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season

For the Polenta

  • One cup of polenta
  • Three cups of water
  • One tablespoon butter

For the Garnish (optional)

  • One bunch of asparagus, hard ends trimmed
  • One tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • One tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 0.5 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

 

Begin by soaking the porcini mushrooms in hot water and keep aside.

Heat extra virgin olive oil in a pan. Add chopped onions, followed by chopped garlic and cook until the onions are slightly caramelised and you can smell the delicious garlic aroma.

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Now add chopped parsley stems and about six to eight sprigs of lemon thyme. These fresh herbs help in flavouring the oil and give the dish a great fresh flavour. Cook the onion mix on a medium heat for five to seven minutes.

Add the assorted mushrooms, except the porcini mushrooms to the onion mix and let them sweat on a low heat for about seven to ten minutes. 

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Now add the remaining lemon thyme sprigs to flavour the mushrooms. Followed by porcini mushrooms including their stock. Right about now, you should be smelling the mushroomy goodness!

Once the mushrooms are tender add cream and goats cheese. Season with salt as desired, cover the pan with a lid and let the ragu simmer for another five minutes on low heat.

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To make the polenta, in a saucepan bring three cups of water to a boil. Now lower the flame and add the polenta. Stir continuously to avoid lumps and polenta sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the water is absorbed and the polenta has thickened add a tablespoon of butter and stir it through to give the polenta its richness and shiny glaze. Finally season with salt as desired.

Finally for the garnish, heat olive oil in a pan. Add the asparagus, followed by lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Continuously toss the asparagus until evenly coated with the balsamic glaze. Take off the heat once tender.

To assemble the dish – place the creamy polenta at the base, ladle the delicious mushroom ragu on top and finally add the asparagus as the final garnish. 

Enjoy this lip smackingly delicious hearty dish with a beautiful red wine and you may just find yourself teleported to Italy.

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