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Vegetable Bolognese Sauce

(Serves 4)
Vegetarian Bolognese Sauce
Vegetarian Bolognese Sauce
This delicious sauce is a vegetarian twist on a classic Bolognese meat sauce. The dense, earthy flavor of the mushrooms make a great substitute for the meat. Otherwise, the sauce uses all the ingredients of a traditional Bolognese sauce.  You will be amazed at the rich flavor and chunky texture of this sauce served over your favorite pasta.

4 tablespoon olive oil, divided
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, coarsely chopped  *
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
2 medium carrots
1/2 medium onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 (14 ounce) can tomato puree
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
12-16 ounces of your favorite pasta, cooked and drained
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Sauté the mushrooms and red pepper flakes until the mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer the mushrooms to a medium saucepan; set aside.

Coarsely chop the carrots and onion in a food processor.
Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the carrots and onions to the skillet; sauté for about 4 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.  Stir in the dried oregano and tomato paste.  Add the red wine; cook the mixture until the wine is almost evaporated.  Season with salt and pepper; transfer to the saucepan with the mushrooms.

Add the tomato puree and sugar to the saucepan.  Add some water if the sauce seems too thick.  Cover the saucepan, keeping the lid slightly ajar.
Cook the sauce for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Just before serving, stir in the heavy cream.  Serve with your favorite pasta, topping each serving with grated Parmesan cheese.

*  Baby Bella mushrooms are the same as crimini or portabello mushrooms.
Both criminis and portabellos are more intensely flavored than their more widely used cousin, the white button mushroom.
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