Red wine, Mushroom, and Tomato Ragu

Times columnist Marie Simmons, in her new cookbook "Things Cooks Love: Implements, Ingredients, Recipes" ($35, Andrews McMeel), suggests a full-bodied wine such as Zinfandel for making this gutsy pasta sauce — and she says it's best made at least a day ahead.

Serves 4-6

1 cup (1 ounce) dried porcini

1 cup boiling water

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1½ pounds assorted fresh mushrooms, tough stems discarded and coarsely chopped (about 8 cups)

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cup red wine

¼ cup lightly packed chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

2 (28-ounce) cans Italian plum tomatoes with juices

1 pound linguine

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese, for serving

1. Place the dried porcini in a small heat-proof bowl and add the boiling water. Let stand for 20 minutes. Place a small strainer over a bowl and drain the mushrooms, reserving the water. Finely chop the soaked porcini and add to the water.


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2. In an 8-quart Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring for 8 minutes, or until softened. Add the fresh mushrooms and season with 1 teaspoon salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Saute the mushrooms over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until they release their liquid and then reabsorb it and begin to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add reserved porcini and porcini water, wine, parsley and oregano, and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 10 minutes, or until the wine is reduced by half.

3. Meanwhile, fit a food mill with the medium disk, and set the mill on the rim of a large bowl. Put the tomatoes with their juices in the food mill and puree. Reverse the crank to extract every bit of flavor from the tomato pulp, and occasionally stop to clean the underside of the mill with a rubber spatula, so the puree falls freely. Discard the pulp left in the strainer. Add the tomatoes to the mushroom mixture.

4. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat. Decrease the heat to low and cook the sauce, uncovered, for 2 hours, or until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

5. To serve, cook the pasta according to package directions, and drain. Place 1 or 2 large ladlefuls of hot sauce in the bottom of a warmed pasta bowl or deep platter and add the drained pasta. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Place another ladleful of sauce in the center of the pasta. Pass the remaining sauce and the cheese at the table.

Per serving (based on 4): 780 calories, 38 g protein, 115 g carbohydrates, 18 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 0 cholesterol, 550 mg sodium, 13 g fiber. Calories from fat: 21 percent.

— Staff analysis