Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Dinner Inspired By My Dad: Spaghetti with Mushroom Bolognese & Peach Crumble

My dad was in town this weekend for a visit. The good news was that he had lost a considerable amount of weight, thanks to my vegetarian nephew who spent the summer with my parents and apparently convinced them to eat veg a good portion of the time. The bad news was that my dad undid all that healthiness with the cigars he was smoking, and with the lunch that he ordered, which was a pasta with meat sauce AND Italian sausage AND meatballs. Oh yes. A veritable meat lover's special. Sigh.

After seeing that, I knew that I wanted to make a pasta dish that was both "meaty" and satisfying, but healthy too. There are plenty of veggie bolognese recipes out there, we probably all have one, but this is mine and we eat it fairly often. The mushrooms add so much savoriness and umami to the sauce, and the carrots and celery add body and texture. It's so rich and flavorful that I think even my dad would enjoy it, so I'll have to make it next time he comes up for a visit. And I've noticed that it's even better the next day, so look forward to having leftovers.

Spaghetti with Mushroom Bolognese
makes 4 -6 servings

16 oz. dried spaghetti
1/2 cup olive oil
2 med. carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz. mushrooms, chopped finely*
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp. garlic powder
pinch red pepper flakes
1 28-oz. can pureed tomatoes
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar
handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste

*If you don't want to chop the mushrooms, carrots, celery, and onion by hand, put them into a food processor and pulse until you have a coarse mixture. I like the sauce a bit chunky, but my husband prefers a more blended sauce, so I pulsed the mixture a bit finer than I usually would. It is really good either way.

1. Heat large pot of water to boiling, cook spaghetti according to package instructions. (I didn't really have to tell you that, did I?)

2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and saute 5-7 minutes until vegetables are softened and begin to brown. Add mushrooms, oregano, dried basil, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes, and saute another 4-5 minutes. Salt & pepper to taste.

3. Add pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, Worcester sauce, and brown sugar to mushroom mixture. Simmer 10 - 15 minutes, then add fresh basil leaves, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and adjust any seasonings if necessary. Serve over cooked spaghetti.

But that's not the only dish that my dad inspired. He brought with him a large basket full of the sweetest, juiciest, ripest Georgia peaches I have ever tasted. I rarely buy peaches (except to make cobbler) because the ones we get here always seem to be hard and somewhat sour. These were so good, it was as if I'd never tasted peaches before. Only problem was that they were so ripe, and there were so many of them that I worried they would go bad before we had a chance to eat them all. Peach Crumble to the rescue!

I found an incredibly quick and easy recipe on a fun blog I like called I Eat Trees. You basically just slice up 4 of your ripe, juicy peaches, and lay them in a baking dish. A lot of crumble recipes have you toss the cut-up fruit in sugar, but I liked that this recipe didn't ask you to do that, because the peaches were so naturally sweet already they wouldn't have needed any additional sugar anyway. Then you just mix 3/4 cup quick oats, 1/4 cup melted vegan butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, and a generous pinch of sea salt. Distribute the topping mixture evenly over the peaches and bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until the topping is browned.

This turned out perfectly. It was pretty much the peach crumble of my dreams. I have to say that the addition of pumpkin pie spice was really brilliant in this recipe. The topping was so fragrant and perfectly buttery and crispy. It transformed perfect peaches into, well, even more perfect peaches. Served with a scoop of Coconut Milk Vanilla Bean ice cream... heaven.


  1. I know what i'm making for dinner this week! Out of spaghetti noodles. Crap. Maybe penne will work!

    Good luck getting your dad back on the veg train!

  2. Penne or any kind of pasta would work! :)

  3. YUM!!! I wish I was so not rushed for dinner tonight because I am making nachos! I rather make this but I might just make n apple crumble when I get back home tonight. Nice post!

  4. Beautiful! I'm really into using the organic brown rice pasta from Tinkyada. I'm gonna try out your recipe tomorrow night! My new hubby and I are trying to eat a lot less meat...

  5. Great Meredith! Let me know how you like it!

  6. For this recipe, I think I'd like the mushrooms to go through the food processor as well. I'm definitely trying this recipe over the winter!

  7. I'm so glad you liked my recipe! I've never liked the "toss already-plenty-sweet fruit in loads of sugar" part of cobbler. :)

  8. Ha, ha, my father is the same!

    I think your bolognese version sounds really, really wonderful. I never thought of adding mushrooms to this dish. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.