One parenting strategy related to food that always makes me cringe is “sneaking” veggies into recipes. I cannot begin to express how much it bothers me that there are books devoted to this concept. I want my kids to know they are eating vegetables and I want them to understand why that is an important part of a healthy diet. I do not want to enable picky tendencies by letting them think they are eating something they deem acceptable while they are really eating something else. There has, however, been one gray area in this realm in our house: mushrooms.  I have never disguised the fact that mushrooms were in our meals. However, somewhere along the line, Caroline mentally exchanged mushrooms for marshmallows. That is, whenever I would tell her we were having mushrooms she would get super excited and then cause a great fuss when it turned out that dinner was, in fact, mushrooms and not a giant plate of marshmallows as she had imagined.

As a result of this ongoing confusion and despite multiple attempts at explanation and clarification, we went through a period where I was a bit hesitant about making things with mushrooms because I knew more crushed dreams and battles were sure to ensue. The first time we made this mushroom bolognese, I was really excited about it because I love a good meatless version of traditionally meat-centric foods. However, I knew that it would result in more drama. As luck would have it, I prepped a batch of this just before I went out of town for a few days. The kids weren’t around when I prepared it and when we told them dinner was pasta with red sauce, they were satisfied. Imagine my surprise when I called home from my trip and Ben told me that the kids had eaten the sauce multiple nights in a row and absolutely loved it. Now the mushroom/marshmallow confusion has been laid to rest (for the record, they do like mushrooms, though still not as much as marshmallows) and this sauce is still a favorite of ours. When we most recently made it, I mentioned that we were nervous the first time we served it to them because of all the mushrooms and Andrew replied, “But Mom, we always love everything you cook and we gobble it all up!” Insert the laughing-so-hard-it-is-crying emoji and the eye roll emoji here. Good grief, Charlie Brown.


  • 2 lbs. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ½ oz. dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 3 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 lb. fettuccine or linguine*
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving


  • 01

    In a food processor, pulse the cremini mushrooms until the pieces are no larger than ½-inch. (Do this in batches if necessary so that they are evenly chopped.) Transfer to a large bowl. Place the carrot and onion in the now empty food processor and pulse until finely chopped, 5-7 pulses. Transfer to the bowl with the mushrooms. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the food processor and pulse until chopped fine, 6-8 pulses. Set aside separate from the rest of the vegetables.

  • 02

    Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped vegetables along with the porcini mushrooms. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until they release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the liquid has evaporated and vegetables begin to brown, 12-15 minutes.

  • 03

    Add the garlic and sugar to the pot and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the wine, bring to a simmer and let cook until nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in the processed tomatoes, vegetable broth, soy sauce, salt, and pepper and bring the mixture to simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the sauce has thickened but is still moist, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.

  • 04

    Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions just until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot. Toss with the sauce until well combined. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and adjust consistency, if needed, with the reserved pasta water. Serve warm with freshly grated Parmesan.

  • 05

    *Note: This recipe makes quite a large amount of sauce. For 1 lb. of pasta, you will probably have more sauce than you need. Save the leftover sauce and use with freshly cooked pasta in the future.
  • Oh so cute, mushrooms are maeshmallows, well she has a point, they are both a bit mooshy :). Great recipe, and although I don’t have kids yet, I totally agree that selling vegetables as something else to your kids is wrong. Great recipe!

  • A recipe like this is just what I need! So comforting, great for the freezer, and absolutely tasty! Can’t wait to try!

  • That is hilarious…that would be quite disappointing – even for a mushroom lover! This sounds like a wonderful sauce and definitely one I would try out. Love doing meatless meals that feel hearty!

  • Melissa Brooker

    Ooh! I can’t wait to make this! I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, but my sister is a vegetarian and i love finding new meals to make for her! This is something that she would love, and so would my husband and i! My husband isn’t always as open to meatless meals, but if it has mushrooms he will be on board!

  • I agree whole-heartedly with you. I believe that vegetables have their own unique taste that should be appreciated as well as fruit. Growing up in an Italian household fruit was considered dessert and only special holidays included other kinds of sweets. I love your take on the typical meat Bolognese sauce — we love using mushrooms in sauces — they add such a depth to the recipe. And sometimes instead of cream we use regular sour cream. We like the taste and the thickness. Can’t wait to make our version of Bolognese. Buona giornata!

  • Kinsey Drake

    I made this a few months ago–same recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. I loved the flavor but I have to say that it made way too much sauce for 1 lb. of pasta. I would make it again since it was delicious, but I would recommend to anyone that makes this to only use half of the sauce when you toss it with the pasta, and freeze the other half for future dinners. Otherwise you run the risk of a soupy, oversauced bowl of pasta.

  • annieseats

    Agreed! I need to update the post to reflect that. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Paige Cassandra Flamm

    This sauce looks delicious! I love great meatless meal ideas and this is definitely one of them!


  • Erika Robinson

    That’s the best story ever. I’ve been laughing about this all day.

  • lizardmom

    I don’t disagree with your take on the “sneaky” vegetables trend. However, I put vegetables and other healthy ingredients in a lot of things, without necessarily calling attention to their existence. I don’t regularly recite recipe ingredients to anyone before serving dinner. I say, we are having meatloaf, not we are having mushroom-eggplant quinoa meatloaf. If anyone, kids or otherwise asks for more info, I gladly provide.

  • Mushroom/marshmallow – its a pretty easy mistake to make!

  • Marlena Feuz Amalfitano

    Really good. I have to confess I swung both ways on veggies. My kids were adopted and I was on a campaign to up their nutrition and although they were good eaters, I often snuck veggies and tofu into things like pasta sauce and meatloaf. We all survived and they eat lots of veggies still, appreciating them.

  • Shohab

    Great, I will tell my wife to make this tonight. :)

  • annieseats

    I do the same and love any opportunity to get extra veggies and nutrients into any food I can. However, my kids are usually either involved in the dinner prep or are sitting at the counter watching while I cook, so they always know what goes into our food. And if I don’t tell them, they do ask. Don’t worry, I’m not criticizing you :)

  • Gcroft

    I love mushrooms and this recipe is definitely a keeper. Thanks for sharing.

  • Oooo, this looks interesting!

  • Patricia Crocker

    I am going to make this today as I discovered I have all the ingredients on hand. Instead of serving it on pasta I am going to make zucchini noodles since I’ve been trying to stay away from a lot of flour in my diet. I am looking forward to tonight’s meal.

  • Emily Fox

    Made this last night, I was a little skeptical. I mean bolognese is awesome, I would have imagined a mushroom one to be the equivalent of gluten free cake-serviceable but not really what I wanted. Wrong. This tasted better by far than the last bolognese I made! I subbed a white wine for the red because I didn’t have red. Do you know if flavor would be as good if I subbed more stock if I wanted to make this without wine? I know it cooks off, but the question is more because I don’t always have a bottle of wine on hand while I always have bullion cubes/stock on hand.

  • annieseats

    Most of the time I would say you good get away with it, but in this recipe I actually think the wine is really important to the end flavor. I recommend using it whenever possible for best results.

  • SB Bhuban


  • Diana Hirabayashi

    Making this for a dinner party with vegetarian friends and it’s delicious!! Trying not to eat a bowl of it before friends arrive… Yummy!!