This Hearty Ragù Is a Perfect Weeknight Vegetarian Dinner
Thanks to charred vegetables, the sauce tastes like it’s been cooking all day, but it only takes an hour to make.
Rich and tomatoey, Sunday sauce is the epitome of comfort food. The only downside is that it takes several hours to make, which is why most people opt to cook it on the weekend. However, if you’re craving something warm and comforting on a weeknight, our Associate Food Editor Kelsey Youngman’s Charred Vegetable Ragù gives you the same feeling in much less time. All you need is a broiler and a few other standard cooking tools, and in about an hour you’ll have a smoky, flavorful meal. Check out Kelsey’s key tips for making the dish below, and get the recipe here.
Cut up the vegetables
Gather the portobello mushrooms, carrots, celery stalks, yellow onion, and garlic and cut them into large chunks. This allows the vegetables to char and achieve a nice, dark color without burning and disintegrating.
Place them on a baking sheet, evenly coat them in olive oil, and put them under the broiler for 10 minutes. At that point, take tongs and flip the vegetables over so they can char on the other side, too. After another 10 minutes, they should come out charred and packed with flavor.
Puree everything together
After the vegetables are cool to the touch, transfer them to a food processor so you can quickly mince them. In less than 30 seconds, you should get small, uniform pieces—if you want, you can scrape the sides and pulse one more time just to get everything even.
Sauté the mushrooms
Next, take your cremini mushrooms and add them to a large, deep skillet with a little oil. Don’t add salt—there’s a lot of moisture in the mushrooms, and you want them to sauté and get nice color. Let them cook undisturbed for about four minutes so they develop a golden brown color.
Use long, bronze-cut noodles
While the mushrooms cook, heat up water for the pasta. Kelsey recommends using a long noodle like bucatini for this sauce, because it clings to and gathers around the pieces of vegetables. Regardless of which variety you choose, the most important thing is that you use a bronze-cut pasta—the noodles have jagged edges, which release more starch into the pasta water, and by proxy, allow you to make a creamier sauce.
Build the sauce…
Once the mushrooms are golden, it’s time to make the sauce. Add half a cup of tomato paste to the skillet, along with dried oregano, a Sunday sauce classic. Cook for one minute until the tomato paste leaves a film when you drag your spatula across the pan. After that, add the wine, and then mix in the charred vegetables. The resulting texture will be thick and dry, more akin to a vegetable sauté than a sauce.
…and finish the pasta in it
Once the pasta is done cooking, transfer the noodles straight to the skillet—don’t drain them—and add in the grated cheese and two tablespoons of olive oil as well. Then it’s time to add the pasta water, and you want to use about one and a half cups. This is the glue that holds everything together, making the sauce creamy and silky. After everything is mixed, you’re all set to serve. Just add a little more grated cheese on top of each serving.