In the cold winter months when the house is closed up and I am chilled to the bones (I am an absolute sissy in cold weather!), there is nothing better than the anticipation of a yummy warm-me-to-the-core pot of goodness that is simmering away on the stove, perfuming the kitchen with its aromatic flavors.
This Fennel Mushroom Ragu is, in its simplicity, precisely one of these meals. Adorn it over pasta, or as the crowning glory atop grilled polenta cakes or tofu, or toss with pasta and vegan ricotta for a baked pasta casserole. Add a protein—such as beefless tips or chickenless strips for a heartier, stick-to-your-ribs dish. Possibilities abound…enjoy!
1 tablespoon olive oil plus scant amount for grilling vegetables
1 medium bulb fennel
7 scallions, sliced
6 large garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 cup dry red wine
2 (14.5 ounce) cans or 1 (32 ounce) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1 pound brown rice spaghetti
- Prepare fennel: Preheat grill pan. Remove fronds and set aside to sprinkle on finished dish or for another use, such as a salad dressing. Chop fennel stems into ½-inch pieces. Lightly toss with olive oil, and grill until grill marks are evident and fennel becomes aromatic but pieces are still quite al dente as they will cook in the ragu. Cut fennel bulb into eight sections leaving core intact so that fennel will remain together. Toss lightly with olive oil and repeat same steps as stems. Chop into ½-1 inch pieces and set aside with stems.
- In sauce pot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil along with the scallions. Cook on medium high heat until scallions become soft but not caramelized. Add garlic and saute until fragrant but do not burn.
- Add baby bellas and cook until the mushrooms have given out their liquid, about five minutes.
- Add the wine, and cook until the wine is almost completely reduced and evaporated.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, black pepper, and optional crushed red pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 1-1/2 hours.