Mushroom ragu is a hearty and flavorful vegan comfort food classic! My recipe is made with a variety of fresh mushrooms and dried porcini. It is simmered in a rich tomato-based sauce with red wine and fresh aromatics. Instead of serving it with a traditional pappardelle, this is a mushroom ragù with gnocchi. The result is a deeply flavorful and satisfying dish that will melt in your mouth!
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💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Hearty comfort food. The meaty texture of the mushrooms combined with the fragrant aromatics gives a deep, earthy flavor to the ragu that makes it a hearty and satisfying meal.
- Vegan. Mushroom ragù is made with vegan and plant-based ingredients such as mushrooms, vegan red wine, and vegetable broth. It is also gluten-free.
- Versatile. This versatile dish can be served over pasta, rice, or creamy polenta for a filling and satisfying meal. Can be made with or without red wine too (see below for instructions on that).
📋 Ingredients and notes
To make this vegan mushroom ragù, you'll need olive oil, a mix of your preferred mushrooms (like Cremini, shiitake, portobello, etc.), dried porcini mushrooms, vegetable stock, onion, garlic cloves, carrots, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, vegan red wine, chopped plum tomatoes, gnocchi, salt, and black pepper. You can also add basil leaves for garnish.
What type of mushrooms should you use?
Use a variety of mushrooms. A mixture of mushrooms will add more flavor and texture to your mushroom ragù (and mimics a meaty flavor). I like using a combination of fresh mushrooms in season as well as dried porcini mushrooms to create a more complex flavor profile.
But here is a quick note on why you might want to use each type of mushroom:
- Porcini mushrooms are rich and earthy. They are a bit more expensive than other types of mushrooms, but well worth the investment!
- Cremini mushrooms have a slightly stronger flavor than white button mushrooms, but they are still relatively mild.
- Shiitake mushrooms are more popular in Asian cuisine, but have a much more meaty texture and a savory flavor.
- Portobello mushrooms are basically large, mature cremini mushrooms! They have a more firm texture and a rich flavor.
- Oyster mushrooms are delicious! They have a slightly more seafood-like flavor and a delicate texture, so they are best added to the ragu sauce towards the end of cooking!
- Chanterelle mushrooms have an almost fruity flavor so be sure to want a unique flavor profile if you go this route.
- Morel mushrooms are wild mushroom that are similar to porcini in flavor. They're definitely on the more expensive side though!
No matter what type of mushrooms you choose, be sure to select ones that are fresh and firm. Avoid mushrooms that are slimy or have brown spots.
Other notes and variations
- Olive oil. Use extra virgin olive oil, any type of olive oil, or neutral-flavored oil.
- Red wine. Not all red wine is vegan, so make sure to check the labels before you use one. You can also substitute red wine with white wine. You can also leave the red wine out and just use a stronger vegetable broth or bouillon.
- Basil leaves are optional, but they will add a sweet, peppery flavor to your ragu.
- Porcini powder. You can also add porcini powder or dried mushroom powder to add more flavor in your mushroom ragu.
- Heavy cream or cashew cream. If you want to have a creamier mushroom ragu, add half a cup of heavy cream or cashew cream to the mixture.
📖 How to clean mushrooms for ragù
To prepare the mushrooms, simply clean them with a damp cloth. Be sure to remove any dirt or debris, especially from the gills. This works for most mushrooms (e.g., Cremini, button mushrooms, etc.) Avoid washing mushrooms under running water, as this can make them soggy.
If you have freshly foraged mushrooms or ones with a lot of gills, soak the mushrooms in water with a tablespoon of salt for 10-15 minutes. Don't soak them for longer since they can get soggy! Then, rinse them under the faucet and dry them with a paper towel.
Once the mushrooms are clean, you can trim the stems and slice them into thick pieces. You can also chop the mushrooms if you prefer a smaller texture, or simply buy chopped mushrooms and avoid all these steps along the way!
📖 How to make the best mushroom ragù
Hydrate the dried Porcini mushrooms in a small pot with the vegetable stock.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until it becomes hot and shimmering.
Add half of the mushrooms to the pot and stir to coat them in the oil. Cook the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until they become deeply browned and develop a golden color, for around 8 minutes.
Once the mushrooms are browned, season them with a pinch of salt and ground black pepper and reserve. Repeat the process with the remaining mushrooms.
Remove the Porcini mushrooms from the broth, chop into smaller pieces and reserve.
In the same pot used to brown the mushrooms, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil once hot.
Add the onions, carrots, and a pinch of salt to the pot. Cook, stir occasionally, until they become softened and fragrant, which should take about 5-6 minutes.
Incorporate the chopped Porcini and mushrooms. Continue cooking and stir occasionally for 1 minute.
Add the garlic and fresh thyme and rosemary to the pot. Keep stirring constantly and cook until the mixture becomes fragrant for another minute or so.
Pour the red wine to deglaze the pot and stir constantly until the wine is absorbed.
Pour the vegetable stock and chopped Plum tomatoes to the pot and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Once done, taste for salt and pepper, adjust if needed.
While the ragu is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water over high heat to boil.
Cook the gnocchi (or other pasta) as per package instructions.
Serve the gnocchi with the ragu on top and garnish with some chopped basil leaves.
👩🏽🍳 Secrets to make the best mushroom ragù
If you want to whip up delicious mushroom ragu that's sure to be a crowd pleaser, follow these top tips:
- Clean the mushrooms properly. Use a paper towel to gently clean the mushrooms of any dirt before using it in your recipe. Don't soak them in water as they might become soggy.
- Sauté the fresh mushrooms well. Make sure to cook the mushrooms until they develop a deep, golden brown color. Browning them releases a delicious umami flavor and crispy texture on the edge of the mushrooms
- Simmer it slowly. Allow the ragu to simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Slow cooking mushroom ragu helps meld the flavors and develop a richer, more complex taste.
- Add heavy cream (or any vegan cream) and parmesan cheese for a creamier mushroom ragu.
- Stir the ragu occasionally while it simmers to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot and to ensure even cooking.
- Season generously. Use herbs like thyme and rosemary to enhance the flavors of your ragu. Add red pepper flakes for a touch of heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
👩🏽🍳 Troubleshooting FAQs
Mushroom ragù is a rich and flavorful Italian sauce made primarily from mushrooms and tomatoes. It is a vegan alternative to traditional meat-based ragu sauce, which is commonly used in Italian cuisine. This mushroom sauce can be served with pasta, polenta, or as a topping for various dishes.
It's best to use a variety of mushrooms for your mushroom ragu to enhance flavor and texture. Aside from porcini mushrooms, you can use shiitake mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, or white button mushrooms.
Yes, absolutely. You can make mushroom ragu ahead of time. The best thing about mushroom ragu is that it tastes better if you let it sit for a while. So if you make it 1-2 days in advance, the flavors of the ragu combine to become deeper and richer flavor.
Yes, aside from carrots, you can add other vegetables like bell peppers or spinach to enhance the flavor and nutrition of your mushroom ragu. Just be sure to chop and cook them appropriately!
Yes, you can omit the wine altogether. The sauce will still be delicious, but maybe a little less complex. You can also use balsamic vinegar for a slightly tart flavor or just add bouillon to amplify the flavor of the broth.
🍴 How to serve and store mushroom ragù
Mushroom ragu can be served over pasta, polenta, rice, or used as a topping for dishes like risotto. It's also great as a filling for sandwiches. I love serving mushroom ragù over gnocchi, or really, any kind of potato because I find that it complements the starchy flavors well. Mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, and roasted potatoes are all great ways to serve mushroom ragu.
To store mushroom ragu, transfer it to an airtight container or Ziploc bag and place in the refrigerator for up to five days. To reheat, transfer it to a pot over medium heat until heated through.
If you want to freeze mushroom ragu, transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag and store it for up to two months.
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- ½ cup olive oil, divided
- 1 lb mushrooms, mixed varieties, trimmed and sliced
- ⅓ cup dried porcini mushrooms
- ½ cup vegetable stock
- ½ onion, medium, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, small, grated
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary
- ⅓ cup red wine, vegan variety
- 1 can chopped tomatoes, 14.5oz, plum tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon salt, to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon basil, chopped, to garnish (optional)
- Hydrate the dried Porcini mushrooms in a small pot with the vegetable stock.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until hot.
- Add half of the mushrooms to the pot and stir them in. Cook mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until they develop a golden color, for around 8 minutes.
- Once the mushrooms are browned, season them with a pinch of salt and ground black pepper and reserve. Repeat the process with the remaining mushrooms.
- Remove the Porcini mushrooms from the broth, chop into smaller pieces and reserve.
- In the same pot used to brown the mushrooms, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil once hot.
- Add onions, carrots, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they become softened and fragrant, which should take about 5-6 minutes.
- Incorporate chopped Porcini and browned mushrooms. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally for 1 minute.
- Add garlic and fresh thyme and rosemary to the pot. Keep stirring constantly and cook until the mixture becomes fragrant for another minute.
- Pour the red wine to deglaze the pot, stirring constantly until the wine is absorbed.
- Pour the vegetable stock and chopped tomatoes to the pot and simmer on low heat for at least 20 minutes. Once done, taste for salt and pepper, adjust if needed.
- While the ragu is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water over high heat to boil. Cook the gnocchi or pasta as per package instructions. Serve with the ragù on top and garnish with some chopped basil leaves.
- Use a variety of mushrooms. The more types of mushrooms you use, the more complex and flavorful the ragu will be. I like using porcini and cremini, but the post has way more suggestions!
- Cook the mushroom in batches to avoid overcrowding. Browning of mushrooms until they get to a golden color is critical to develop flavors.
- Use a good quality stock. The stock is the base of the sauce, so it's important to use a good one.
- Add heavy cream (or any vegan cream) and parmesan cheese for a creamier mushroom ragu.
- Stir the ragù occasionally while it simmers to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot and to ensure even cooking.
- Simmer the ragù slowly. This will allow the flavors to develop and the sauce to thicken over time.