Rich and savory portobello mushroom ragu served over creamy cheese polenta — a flavor bomb vegetarian main dish!
Are you’re craving polenta for dinner?
How about the heartiness of a rich-tasting, meaty ragu, only it’s completely vegetarian?
You’re going to love this portobello mushroom ragu, a sauce that tastes complex and slow-cooked, but that actually comes together in just under an hour.
It makes a fantastic one-bowl meal served over creamy Parmesan polenta.
I’ve included the recipe for my go-to perfect creamy polenta, an essential recipe for foolproof buttery soft polenta.
Although the combo of cheesy polenta and this super-tasty sauce feels totally indulgent, I have no problem whatsoever tagging this recipe as “healthy” (heh heh).
After all, polenta is a gluten-free whole grain, and the robust, chunky sauce is vegetarian, full of fiber and mineral-rich portobellos.
Although a traditional Italian-style ragu is a slow-cooked sauce based on meat (beef and/or pork), this mushroom sauce is just as rib-sticking and satisfying, only it’s completely meatless.
I’m always amazed when I make this — the flavors are so savory it’s hard to stop eating it.
It’s definitely one of those portobello mushroom recipes that’s a total keeper.
One reason this dish tastes so delicious is that it includes ingredients that happen to be full of umami, a word that basically translates from Japanese to mean “yummy”:
This same mushroom ragu is amazing on pasta too — we love it with Pappardelle Pasta with Mushroom Ragu
How to prepare portobello mushrooms:
- Choose mushrooms with firm, unbroken caps.
- Look for unbroken gills that are light brown in color. If the gills are moist or turning black, use a spoon to scrape them out and discard.
- Gently wipe the mushrooms with a damp towel if they seem dirty, but don’t soak them in water or they’ll get soggy.
- Slice into thick slices or chunks about 1-inch for the best chunky sauce.
Easy Mushroom Ragu with Parmesan Polenta
Portobello Mushroom Ragu
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound (500 g) portobello mushrooms caps, sliced into 1-inch chunks
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 3 tablespoons (45 g) tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/3-1/2 cup (75-125 ml) vegetable stock or water
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (50 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Parmesan Polenta, Recipe Follows
- Put the olive oil, shallots and a pinch of salt in a large (12-inch) skillet and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are softened, but not browned.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan, Cook for about 5 minutes, or until they take on some color, then stir and add 1/2 teaspoon salt (this helps them release their water). Continue cooking until the mushrooms become tender and the liquid evaporates.
- Stir in the garlic, rosemary or thyme, chili, tomato paste, vinegar and butter. Add 1/3 cup of the stock or water and stir until the mixture becomes saucy, adding more liquid if needed.
- Serve the ragu over Parmesan Polenta with grated Parmesan.
Creamy Polenta with Parmesan Cheese Recipe
- 4 cups (1 l) water
- 1 cup (250 ml) milk
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup (160 g) coarse or medium-grind cornmeal
- 3 tablespoons (45 g) butter
- 1/2 cup (50 g) grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring the water and milk to a boil in a heavy-duty sauce pan or small Dutch oven. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
- Gradually sprinkle the polenta into the pan while whisking at the same time. Turn the heat to a very low simmer, cover and continue to cook the polenta for 25 - 30 minutes, until it's thick, fluffy and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- When it's done, remove from the heat and stir in the butter, cheese and additional salt to taste if needed.
- Serve warm, sprinkled with additional cheese if desired.
- To make polenta cakes, pour the freshly made hot polenta into a baking dish or sheet pan. Spread the top evenly, cool and refrigerate until firm. Slice or cut into portions with a cookie/biscuit cutter. Pan-fry in a cast iron or non stick pan with a little olive oil until brown on both sides.
- Use stock or broth in place of some of the water for richer flavor. Milk adds a somewhat creamier texture, but it can be substituted with your choice of water, stock or unsweetened plant-based milk if you prefer.