This make-ahead dish is perfect for Meatless Monday—and fancy enough for Saturday night company
We often eat meatless at our house. Many vegetarian and vegan dishes pack so much flavor, we never even notice the absence of meat.
This mushroom and white bean ragout is a good example. Portobello mushrooms offer plenty of “chew” and savory flavor. White beans add protein. Dish it up over polenta or noodles, and you have a one-dish dinner. Best of all, you can make this ragout ahead of time—it reheats beautifully.
We’ve served this dish to company, and it always gets rave reviews. So be prepared to take a bow.
Recipe: Mushroom and White Bean Ragout
Mushroom ragouts are common dishes throughout Northern Italy and much of the Mediterranean region, where they often are made with wild local mushrooms. We use Portobellos because they taste great and are readily available. To add some extra flavor, we also include dried porcini mushrooms. But if you have access to wild mushrooms, they would be spectacular in this dish.
We like to serve this ragout over polenta, particularly our Easy No-Stir Oven Polenta. But it’s also great over noodles or rice. Or even mashed potatoes (with lots of butter if you want to go all decadent).
This recipe was inspired by one we found in Martha Rose Shuman’s Mediterranean Harvest.
Prep time for this dish is about 10 minutes, with total cooking time adding another 45 minutes or so. The ragout keeps for 3 or 4 days if refrigerated in an airtight container. Reheat it on the stovetop over low heat.
This recipe serves 6 to 8.
- 1 ounce dried mushrooms, preferably porcini (see Notes)
- 2 cups very hot water (boiling is best)
- 2 pounds Portobello mushrooms (see Notes for alternatives)
- 1½ cups onion, diced (1 large or 2 medium onions)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt to taste
- 4 garlic cloves, divided
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced (see Notes)
- 2 tablespoons butter (for Step 6; if you want to make this dish vegan, substitute additional olive oil instead)
- 1 tablespoon flour (see Notes for a substitute; optional)
- ½ to ¾ cup wine (red or white; or dry vermouth—see Notes)
- 1 15-ounce can white beans (we like cannellini in this dish, but any white bean works; can double the amount if you wish)
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (double this if you wish)
- ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- additional salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- additional chopped parsley or fresh rosemary for garnish (optional)
- sprinkling of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish (optional)
- Place the dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl or measuring cup. Add the hot water and let the mushrooms soak for 30 minutes. Then place a strainer over a bowl and pour the mushrooms into the strainer. Squeeze the mushrooms over the strainer until you’ve squeezed out all the juices. Quickly rinse the mushrooms to remove any residual sand. Chop the mushrooms coarsely, then set them aside. Measure out 1½ cups of the soaking liquid (strain out any sand) and set aside.
- Prep the Portobello mushrooms: Wipe the mushrooms with a damp paper towel (or if they’re particularly dirty, rinse them quickly, then dry). Remove the stems if you wish (we usually don’t) and cut the mushrooms into slices of ½-inch or so (if they’re small, you can cut them into halves or quarters). Set aside.
- Peel the onions and cut them into dice of ½ inch or so. Place a large frying pan or Dutch oven over medium stovetop heat. When it’s hot, add olive oil. When the oil is heated (it’ll shimmer—this takes 15 seconds or so), add the diced onions. Season to taste with salt—maybe a couple of big pinches. Lower the heat a bit and sauté until the onions are translucent—typically 5 to 8 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel the garlic and slice it thinly or mince finely. Divide the sliced garlic into two heaps of roughly equal amounts, then set aside.
- Once the onion is translucent (Step 3), add half the garlic. Add the dried thyme and fresh rosemary. Sauté the onion mixture for 1 minute.
- Now add the Portobello mushrooms (from Step 2). Add additional salt to taste (maybe another couple of big pinches), plus the butter. Sauté the mixture for 5 minutes.
- Add the flour if using. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the reconstituted mushrooms (from Step 1), along with the wine. Cook the mixture down until the liquid evaporates and a glaze forms on the mushrooms. Stir from time to time so the mushrooms don’t stick and burn. While the wine is cooking down, open the can of beans, dump into a strainer or colander placed in the sink, rinse off the gunk they were packed in, and let drain.
- Add the reserved soaking liquid (from Step 1), along with the beans, the tomato, the reserved garlic, and the parsley. Bring the mixture to the barest simmer, and cook for 30 minutes (a bit longer is OK).
- Taste, then add salt and black pepper (if necessary). Serve over polenta, rice, or noodles. Garnish with chopped parsley or fresh rosemary. We often sprinkle on some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano as well.
- What’s a ragout? It’s simply a dish, usually containing liquid, that’s cooked over low heat. Sort of like a stew, but not exactly (stews typically contain much more liquid). A ragout can contain meat, or it can be made entirely from vegetables and other ingredients.
- If you can’t find (or don’t want to use) dried porcini mushrooms, you can substitute any type of dried mushrooms that you prefer.
- We do recommend using some kind of dried mushroom, though. They add wonderful flavor, and their soaking liquid provides savor.
- If you can’t find (or don’t want to use) Portobello mushrooms, you can substitute regular white or cremini mushrooms. The flavor won’t be quite as good, however. Shiitake mushrooms would also be a good substitute.
- Red wine works best in this dish (for Step 8), but white is fine too. If you don’t want to open a bottle of wine just to make this dish, you can substitute dry vermouth (the white stuff; red vermouth wouldn’t work at all).
- Cooking removes almost all the alcohol from wine, but be aware that a small residual amount remains. So if this is a concern, just skip the wine—the dish will still taste quite good.
- If you don’t have fresh rosemary for garnish, use more thyme or perhaps substitute dried sage. Dried rosemary isn’t worth using, in our opinion (the stuff tastes awful).
- We add flour in Step 7 to help thicken the sauce. Cooking it for 2 minutes eliminates the “raw flour” flavor. If you don’t want to use flour, you can eliminate it—the sauce will just be a bit more runny.
- Or substitute cornstarch: At the end of cooking, add a tablespoon or two of cornstarch to a like amount of cold water. Stir to combine, then stir the cornstarch into the ragout right before serving. This will also help thicken the sauce.
- Although beans and tomato add a lot to this dish, you can leave out one or both if you wish (neither is in Shulman’s recipe). In fact, most of the recipes we’ve seen skip these ingredients.
“Yummy,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “But then, I’d never diss your mushroom dishes. Wouldn’t want to get in truffle.”
“Fungi pack flavor,” I said. “There’s not mushroom for doubt about it.”
“And when it comes to cooking ‘shrooms, you’re a champignon,” said Mrs K R.
“Maybe we should put a cap on this conversation,” I said.
“Yeah, before it mushrooms into something,” said Mrs K R.
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