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Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese

I have to admit–Giada de Laurentiis is one of my favorite chefs on Food Network TV.  Those following this blog may have noticed that many of my Italian dishes are Giada’s or inspired by her.  Well, that’s because I have three of her four cookbooks.  😉  I love her approach to cooking–simple, easy to make dishes that are full of flavor.  In addition, they work just as well for entertaining as they do for weeknight meals, which I also appreciate.

I’ve made this dish more than once and along the way, have adapted it to suit my tastes.  Namely, I’ve left out the mushrooms called for in the original recipe and substituted chicken broth for the red wine.

Instead of using a food processor to finely chop the vegetables, I opted to finely hand chop everything.  The first time I used the food processor, it ended up pureeing everything into a mush, which was less than appetizing.  Hand chopping all the vegetables ensured that the bolognese had a chunkier texture and more body.

Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese, adapted from Giada’s Kitchen, by Giada de Laurentiis

3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 T olive oil
2 t chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 t chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 t kosher salt
1 t freshly ground black pepper
2 T tomato paste
3/4 c chicken broth
1/2 c mascarpone cheese
1 lb rigatoni pasta
1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Finely chop the carrots, onion, bell pepper and garlic.  Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet.  Add the chopped vegetables, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper and saute over medium-high heat until tender, about 6 minutes.

Add the tomato paste to the vegetables and continue cooking, stirring to dissolve the tomato paste, for about another 5 minutes.  Add the chicken broth and bring the liquid to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, approximately 10 minutes.  Add the mascarpone cheese and stir until the cheese is incorporated.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil over medium high heat.  Add the rigatoni and cook according to the package instructions, until the pasta is al dente, approximately 8-10 minutes.  Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Add the rigatoni to the vegetable mixture, toss well.  Add some of the reserved pasta water, if necessary, to moisten and thin the sauce.  Toss with the Parmesan and serve.

Serves 6.