I recently discovered the difference between Ragú and Bologense! As a lover of all things Italian I was always confused when both sauces were featured on the menu. When asked nobody could give me a sensible answer. So I trusted Mr Google and this the best explanation I got.
Both sauces are meat based. Ragu is heavily based on meat, usually red and minced, sofrito and red wine. Ragu sauce is usually served with spaghetti. On the other hand Bolognese originated in Bologna, is tomatoes, onions, white wine, pancetta based and the meat could vary from chicken, pork, rabbit, veal and so on. Bolognese is normally served with wider pasta like fettuccini, lasagne to hold the sauce better. There is no strict rule here!
For today I picked Paccheri this pasta is a larger version of rigatoni and holds up well for baking. I choose to make the sauce 100% vegetarian, I mean what else. This version of vegetarian Ragu uses the idea of minced vegetables in place of minced meat. It’s rich, robust with a full bodied flavor. I finally baked this dish to further give it a earthy rustic feel. Choose any veggie combo you have on hand.
Paccheri with Vegetable Ragú
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium carrots finely chopped
- 2 zucchini finely chopped
- 2sticks celery, well washed and diced
- 1 Japanese eggplant or 1/2 medium globe eggplant, finely chopped
- 2 leeks or 1/2 a large fennel rinsed very well and finely chopped
- 1/2 medium Onion, Diced
- 50 grams cremini or oyster Mushrooms, finely chopped about 1 Cup
- 2 tablespoons Chopped sundried tomato or tomato paste
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup of red wine optional
- 1 Bottle Tomato passata (strained tomatoes), like Pomi
- 1 Cup Veggie low sodium broth
- 1 tsp. Chilli Flakes optional but highly recommended
- 1/2 cup pitted olives
- 1 tsp. Dried Oregano I like wild
- Black Pepper as needed
- 1 tsp. Sea Salt
- 250-300 grams pasta of your choice
- 1 oz grated mozzarella plant based or regular
- For the Vegan Parmesan; Pulse 1/2 cup walnuts or macadamia nuts till finely chopped and crumbly mix with 1 heaped tablespoon nutritional yeast and salt to taste.
Heat olive oil in a largish saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped carrots, leeks, onion, eggplant, zucchini garlic, and cook over low- medium heat for 15 minutes or until the veggies sweat, begin to soften almost jam like consistency.
Add the mushrooms, dried herbs, chilli flakes, walnuts and sauté for another 5 minutes until the mushrooms begin to soften.
Add red wine if using, cook down till the wine evaporates about 3-4 minutes. Add tomato passata, chopped sundried tomato and veggie broth.
Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 30-35 minutes until the sauce is rich and thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Mix the sauce with pasta that is previously cooked to al dente. Choose wholewheat Paccheri or rigatoni or pasta. Transfer it into a baking dish, sprinkle with cheese and bake for 10 minutes in a 375 preheated oven till bubbly and golden.
Arrange the pasta standing up for an interesting presentation if desired.
Garnish with torn basil leaves and lots of walnut Parmesan or regular Parmesan.