Mushroom Walnut Bolognese

Written by Kajsa IngelssonJanuary 30, 2020

All my friends who tasted this recipe asked for it. Just saying, it’s that good! The process is a bit of a b.tch, but so can I be, so don’t judge 😉

Mushroom Walnut Bolognese

  • 10 ounces (300 g) fresh cremini mushrooms
  • 1 cup (2.5 dl) walnut pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • About 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup (2.5 dl) dry red wine (or sub 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar + 1 cup more water)
  • 1 cup (2.5 dl) water
  • Fresh thyme sprigs tied tightly together into a bundle with string. (see notes)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Make it like this;

  • Place 1/2 of the mushrooms in a food processor, and pulse several times until finely ground without over processing.
  • Transfer the ground mushrooms to a bowl, then add the rest of the mushrooms and repeat.
  • Place the walnuts in the food processor and process until well ground. Add them to the ground mushrooms.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of water in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and the walnuts and cook until the all of the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms have browned, about 8-10 minutes. Remove the mushroom/walnut mixture from the pot and set aside.
  • Wipe out the food processor, and add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Process into a rough ‘pulp,’ about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of water in the pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable pulp (onions, carrots, celery and garlic) with a pinch of salt to the pot. Saute until all of the liquid cooks off, the color turns from bright orange to a deeper orange-brown, and the volume is reduced by about half, about 10-12 minutes.
  • Add the mushroom/walnut mixture and blend it in. Stir and scrape loose any browned bits from the pan if they form. Add water a little at a time if things begin to stick or get too brown.
  • Move the browned pulp aside to the edges of the pot, leaving an empty spot in the center. Add the pumpkin to the center of the pot, and cook about 5 minutes until it begins to brown and get dark, but not burn. (Keep stirring and scraping, adding water 1 teaspoon at a time and reducing heat a bit only if things start to get too dark or burn.) When the tomato paste has browned, stir it into the vegetable pulp. 
  • Add the red wine (or vinegar, if using instead) to the pot to deglaze (loosen) and scrape up all of the brown bits (“fond”) that have formed in the pan–this adds flavor!
  • Add the mushroom/walnut mixture, and stir well to combine everything.
  • Add the smashed tomatoes and their liquid, water, and crushed red pepper flakes to the pot and stir well. Bring the sauce to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes so that the alcohol from the wine cooks off.
  • Add the thyme bundle and bay leaf, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes–or even better, one hour or more.
  • Before serving, remove the thyme bundle (and any loose stems) and the bay leaf, and season with sea salt, to taste.
  • Serve with pasta!