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When thinking about health care gets too depressing, there’s nothing like a rich and hearty vegetarian meal to make everything better.  This vegetarian pasta bolognese is absolutely amazing–even meat lovers will find it filling and delicious, I’d imagine.  I seem to be becoming a sort of Giada de Laurentiis groupie–whenever I see her cook something I just have to try it, and I’m rarely disappointed.  Though I’ve noticed she seems to put mascarpone cheese in almost everything, which probably isn’t something you want to be eating every day. 

To make this recipe vegan, just omit the mascarpone and parmesan, it’ll still be really flavorful with all the wine and spices.  And if porcini mushrooms are a bit pricey other reviewers of the recipe suggest adding chicken stock or veggie stock instead of the mushroom-water.  You can also just chop everything by hand if you don’t have a food processor (oh, how I love my little food processor, though I’m quickly realizing that I need a bigger one).  The total cost of this meal for me was about $5 per serving (thank you Trader Joe’s $1.99 wine), which definitely falls under Michael Pollan’s advice heading of “spend more, eat less.”  It makes enough for four people as a main dish, five or six as a side. 

Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese (courtesy Giada de Laurentiis)

  • 1-ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 ounces assorted mushrooms (like shiitake, cremini, and brown), stemmed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan

Directions

Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with 1 1/2 cups very hot water. Set aside and let the mushrooms soften.

Place the carrots, onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse the vegetables until finely chopped but still chunky. Place the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped vegetables, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Strain the porcini mushrooms, reserving the porcini mushroom liquid. Add the porcini mushrooms, fresh mushrooms, and tomato paste and continue cooking, stirring to dissolve the tomato paste, until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the porcini mushroom liquid and 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 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 but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup 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 Parmesan and serve.

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And an extra recipe that I’m also addicted to (the dressing is SO good).  I’m not a fan of raw tomatoes so I leave them out, but it’s still great:

Anytime Vegetable Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shelled edamame soy beans
  • 8 ounces thin green beans, trimmed
  • 8 ounces yellow wax beans, trimmed
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil or tarragon leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Cook the edamame in a large pot of boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water, then drain well and pat dry. Repeat with the green beans and yellow beans. Combine the vegetables in a bowl.

Add the vinegar, oil, herbs, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper to a glass screw-top jar. Seal the jar and shake vigorously to mix the vinaigrette.

When you’re ready to serve, shake the jar again to re-mix the vinaigrette and pour it over the vegetables. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Alternate Method: Whisk the vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 3/4 teaspoon of pepper in a large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Add all of the beans, tomatoes, basil, and thyme, and toss to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with more salt and pepper, and serve.

 

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