Penne with Mushrooms

Would it surprise you if I said that for most of my life, I thought ragu meant the spaghetti sauce that came in the jar with the picture of a gondola?  Tragic, I know.  It’s a wonder that I have any kitchen skills after years of being exposed to high levels of prepackaged food radiation.  I have since come to appreciate that a ragu is traditionally a sauce of ground beef, tomatoes, onions, celery, carrots, white wine, and seasoning.  But I struggle with homemade pasta sauces, maybe because I’m so accustomed to eating the jarred stuff, after making a few modifications of course.  So instead of trying to master a traditional ragu, I decided to give mushroom ragu a try.

I love the combination of mushrooms and wine.  And I like being able to whip up a hearty, meatless meal with a minimum of fuss.  So why has it taken me so long to become acquainted with mushroom ragu?  My best defense is that I don’t usually seek out pasta recipes.  That this one found me via the Washington Post was divine intervention. I can’t promise that it will change my mind completely about homemade sauce but it has opened my eyes that there’s more than one way to dress pasta.

And that confession that I actually like jarred pasta sauce, that will stay just between us won’t it?

Penne with Mushroom Ragu

The Washington Post

BAH Note:  I think that this dish needs a little more flavor, maybe in the form of thyme or oregano.  And the next time I make this, I might substitute a nice briny Feta for the Parmesan and let it melt in the sauce a bit before adding the pasta.

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound assorted mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces penne, uncooked
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Bring a large pot of water to boil, cook and drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onions and stirring occasionally, cook until soft, approximately 5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and salt to the pan and cook until the mushrooms release their moisture and begin to brown, approximately 10 minutes.

Lower the heat under the skillet to medium and add the wine.  Stir to combine.  Cook until the liquid has reduced by half, approximately 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the parsley.  Taste for seasoning and add additional salt as desired.

Add the drained pasta to the skillet and stir to combine.  Serve topped with grated Parmesan.

{printable recipe}

12 thoughts on “Ragu

  1. This has me smiling. 1) Because you made a pasta dish, and; 2) Because we ate this very meal last night (but with rotini instead of penne). And those look like our William Sonoma bowls…

    1. Tracy, pasta has become a special treat for me since going all South Beach. So I’m definitely of the opinion that one should not waste good pasta with bad sauce.

      Those are indeed WS bowls. We got two full sets of the everyday dishes when we got married. China is nice and everything but as clumsy as I am, it’s just not practical. These dishes are nice and sturdy – we’ve chipped a few over the last five years but haven’t broken one yet. And now that I say that, I’m sure there will be a tragic loss of dishes in our future ; )

  2. Ragu! When I read that I thought of the canned stuff too. But really, its just a well made sauce. Something I think most of us do everyday to eat with pasta (or just doctor up canned sauce :-p)

    1. Hey Elizabeth, how ya been? While I have pledged allegiance to doctoring up jarred sauce, this mushroom ragu is every bit as easy, and a nice change from meat sauce.

  3. I don’t see out pasta recipes either – I tend to just throw things together on top of pasta and consider it dinner. Pasta lends itself to spontaneity like that.

    Funny WaPo called that recipe a “ragu” because it’s basically just sauteed mushrooms (and a ragu is more like a stew). I think some garlic might be a nice addition, and I like your feta idea too. Maybe even some bleu cheese crumbles. And bacon. 🙂

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