I'm a big Giada de Laurentis fan. I like her for different reasons than my husband; I watch for the food while he watches for other reasons which I won't go in to here.
Many of my favorite recipes come from her cookbooks - especially Everyday Italian. You have to try the shrimp diavolo or the penne with asparagus, smoked mozzarella or prosciutto or salmon in a foil pouch with tomatoes.
But, I've had her most recent cookbook for almost a year and haven't made even one single recipe from it. That's how I picked this one. It seemed like time to spill some stuff on the pages of an unused cookbook.
"Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese"
in Giada's Kitchen: New Italian Favorites
by Giada de Laurentis
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1 1/2 C very hot water
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
2 garlic cloves
1/4 C olive oil
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
5 oz. assorted mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 C red wine
1/2 C mascarpone cheese
1 lb. rigatoni pasts
1/4 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with the hot water. Set aside and let the mushrooms soften.
Place the carrots, onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped but still chunky. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet. Add the chopped vegetables, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper and cook over medium-high heat until tender, about 6 minutes.
Strain the porcini mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Use the food processor to chop the porcini and assorted mushrooms.
Add all of the mushrooms and tomato paste to the vegetable mixture. Continue cooking, stirring to dissolve the tomato paste, until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushroom soaking liquid and the red wine. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the mascarpone cheese and stir just until the cheese is incorporated.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 C of the cooking liquid, and add to the vegetable mixture. Add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid, if necessary, to moisten the sauce. Toss with the Parmesan and serve.
Brad and I both enjoyed this. It had a really distinct taste - from the mushrooms, I think. I might try a different type of dried mushroom (instead of porcini) next time. Overall, I was amazed at how "meaty" it tasted. Definitely comfort food.
I also should have used my time better. A smart girl would have started heating the pasta water at the same time she started cooking the vegetables. This would mean the noodles would be cooked at about the same time the sauce is finished.