Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mushroom and Zucchini Ragu

My Ragu is Served over Mushroom Gnocchi
Every once in a while as a home cook, you make something that you just know is super  delish without getting affirmation from anyone else.  Tonight’s recipe falls into that category.
Last night was my 51st birthday.  Hubby Dan took me out to our local Japanese restaurant for all-you-can-eat sushi.  We were stuffed to the gills (pun intended).  So much so, we didn’t even touch the cake Mama Pirri bought us.  If you don’t know who Mama Pirri is, you have to read through my other posts.  She is Dan’s mom.

I got hungry for gnocchi when my friend and Dan’s cousin, Betsy, told me that her husband made homemade gnocchi this weekend after sampling them in San Francisco.  That made me recall a time in the Old North End of Boston about 15 years ago when I ate nothing but gnocchi for three dinners (out of choice).  Of course, I was a size 4 back then!
Tonight I bring you gnocchi topped with a delicious mushroom and zucchini ragu.
I found these wonderful mushroom gnocchi at a local store this weekend (Target).  I would highly recommend making this sauce with this gnocchi if you want the “Full Monty” experience. 

The key to healthy eating is to eat a little of what you want with something that’s slimmed down.  I could have made a big beef sauce with these - instead, I opted for this lighter vegetarian meal.
Family Friendly Tip:  If you don’t want to use the wine in the sauce, try low sodium chicken broth and take out 1/2 tsp. of the salt in this dish.


I freeze fresh basil in that I grow into “basil cubes,” which consists of 1 1/2 tsp. of coarsely chopped basil in each cube along with water.  This is an old grandmother’s trick, but one that works!  If you don’t have basil ice cubes, just substitute fresh basil.
I used petite baby bella mushrooms.  If you cannot find these, use baby bella and cut into eight pieces. 

I used one of those new cool provolone and fontina blend cheeses to top this.  But use any cheese that you like. 

1 tbs. light olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup sliced baby carrots
Pinch or two of crushed red pepper
1/2 tbs. chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. dried crushed rosemary
3 basil ice cubes*
6 ounces petite baby bella mushrooms, halved (larger ones quartered)*
1/2 tbs. butter
1/4 cup extra dry vermouth, optional (see notes)
14-15 ounces petite diced canned tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded zucchini, divided


Sharp Provolone and Fontina pasta blend shredded cheese, optional
Fresh chopped grape tomatoes, optional


Add olive oil to deep skillet, along with yellow onion, carrot, and crushed red pepper.  Sauté for about three minutes until softened. 

Add in garlic, rosemary and one of the basil ice cubes for 1/3 fresh basil.  Cook for about two more minutes. 

Add in the mushrooms and butter.  Sauté for about three minutes until mushrooms begin to brown.   

Add the vermouth, if using;  let cook out about two minutes. 

Add the tomatoes, the salt and pepper.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, about 30 minutes.

Note:  Whatever pasta you use, I suggest you reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water.

Add the cooking water and 1 cup of the zucchini along with the two remaining basil cubes.   Cook over low heat for about five minutes.

 If using fresh basil, wait and garnish at the end. 

Serving Suggestion:  Top with remaining raw zucchini, the cheese blend and fresh chopped grape tomatoes to give this a nice fresh pop. 







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