Mushroom Sauce for Pasta or Polenta

Here's the dish just after the tomatoes have been added.

Here’s the dish just after the tomatoes have been added.

This simple but savory sauce is perfect for a drizzly late fall evening.  It’s hearty without using meat, so hearty that my dedicated carnivore husband didn’t notice that meat wasn’t there.  You could add some meat, I think chicken thighs would be good, but it stands on its own as a vegetarian dish.  I used our Hen of the Woods wild mushrooms, picked in October and further enriched the mushroom taste with some dried Porcini which I reconstituted in warm water (reserving the water to add to the sauce).  If you buy the mushrooms, you could use the regular button mushrooms but add in some more exotic ones like Cremini or Portobello to boost the flavor.

Begin with sauteing onions and the mushrooms in olive oil then add a generous amount of chopped garlic (I added five cloves for the two of us).  I used fresh Rosemary for my herb, snipping in the needles from a 4″ branch and added some salt and red pepper flakes, for a bit of heat.  When these ingredients are cooked, add peeled tomatoes (I used one of my pint jars of plum tomatoes, canned last summer) and the reserved mushroom soaking water, taking care not to add any of the grit that might have collected in the bottom.  Cook this down while you boil the water for the pasta.  I used wild mushroom ravioli from the market.  Barilla makes wild mushroom tortellini which is dried and I think that would also work well.  If you can’t find wild mushroom filled pasta, any pasta would do, just be sure to add the cooked pasta to the sauce and cook them together for a couple of minutes to marry the flavors.  Top with grated cheese.  I like Romano, with its more robust flavor for this.

The finished dish.

The finished dish.

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