Mushroom, Tomato and White Bean Ragout

This vegetarian dish may not win any beauty pageants but if you are a mushroom lover, than this should scratch that itch perfectly.  While it could be a main course, served over rice or polenta or pasta, this also would be a terrific side alongside a steak or piece of roasted or grilled salmon, or some chicken.  Or maybe even heaped on a burger.

A ragout is basically just another name for stew, and usually (like most stews) it has meat involved, but I am using the word loosely here.

I am always looking for substantial vegetarian dishes that can serve a both a main and a side. My mom and my sister are vegetarians, and so while many of my dinners do include meat of some sort (my boys and husband are decidedly NOT vegetarians) I want them to feel like they aren’t just eating side dishes as a meal, but rather getting something with substance to anchor the plate.

Fresh vs. Dried Mushrooms

You can use fresh or dried mushrooms in this recipe.  You’ll notice that this calls for either 2 pounds of fresh mushrooms, or 6 ounces of dried, and that may seem like a very big difference in weight.  It is a very big difference in weight.

Mushroom, Tomato and White Bean Ragout

Mushrooms are actually made up of mostly water, so when mushrooms are dried they end up being extremely light, and get bulkier and heavier when they are reconstituted in water.  You can use any mushrooms you like, from button mushrooms (cheap and accessible) to any type of wild mushrooms, or a mix.

Cooking with Dried Mushrooms

They may look like little unappealing shriveled up nuggets, but dried mushrooms are quite simply mushrooms that are dehydrated, or dried. As they dry, the flavor of dried mushrooms becomes concentrated and intense.  When they are rehydrated they have a meatier texture than fresh. 

Unlike fresh mushrooms, dried mushrooms do not need to be refrigerated, and they have a longer shelf life and richer flavor, making them an ideal pantry ingredient.

How to Cook With Dried Mushrooms

There are many varieties of dried mushrooms, the most common being shiitakes, porcini, morels, and chanterelles. Sometimes dried mushrooms come in a mix.  Shiitake and porcini tend to be more affordably priced while morels and chanterelles are pricier. They are available year round.

In general, dried mushrooms are brown and dark tan in color, with some varieties being a dark or light cream color.  Often, dried mushrooms have their stem intact.  Look for the containers or packages that have nice, intact mushrooms and are not crushed. There should be no signs of moisture or mold as that indicates they were not preserved well.

Mushroom, Tomato and White Bean Ragout

Always start by giving dried mushrooms a good soak in hot water to rehydrate and clean them. Simply place them in bowl and fully submerge them in boiling or very hot water, cover and let sit for 20 minutes. The result will be plumped up mushrooms and a flavorful broth that can be strained and used in recipes.

Dried mushrooms can then be used in almost all ways as fresh mushrooms can but add extra flavor and a more substantial texture.  

Mushroom, Tomato and White Bean Ragout

What Kind of Beans to Use in Ragout

Any kind of white beans would be perfect here, Navy, Cannelini, whatever you got. I used small White Northern Beans. You could also make this with chickpeas.

I once made this mushroom dish with leftover béchamel sauce instead of sour cream or other dairy, and that was luscious.  I would never make 2 tablespoons of béchamel for any recipe, let alone one that is intended to be fast and easy, so please don’t feel like this is a pressure. In my line of work, sometimes you find yourself with leftover bechemel in the fridge — weird occupational hazard. 

Mushroom, Tomato and White Bean Ragout

This substantial and satisfying vegetarian dish can serve as a main course, or a side. It can be made without the optional cream for a vegan version.

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Herb Choices for Ragout

Instead if the tarragon you could use basil, sage, thyme, parsley, whatever fresh or dried herbs are in your arsenal at the moment.  Flexibility is always the name of the game.

What to Serve with Mushroom, Tomato and White Bean Ragout:

Mushroom, Tomato and White Bean Ragout

Other Stew and Ragout Recipes:

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Mushroom, Tomato and White Bean Ragout

This substantial and satisfying vegetarian dish can serve as a main course, or a side.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds mushrooms , any kind (or 6 ounces dried and reconstituted; see package directions)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 leeks , white and light green parts only, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5-ounce can white beans , such as cannellini or small White Northern beans
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons harissa paste (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream , sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt (optional)
  • Chopped fresh parsley to garnish

Directions

  • If using fresh mushrooms, wash and slice them. If using dried soak them in hot water to cover for 30 minutes, then drain the mushrooms (reserve and strain that lovely soaking liquid for making soups!). Squeeze them to remove excess liquid.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the leeks and saute for about 6 minutes, until they are wilted and tender. Add the mushrooms and saute for about 8 minutes. If using fresh mushrooms they will brown slightly, and become tender. If using reconstituted dry mushrooms they won’t brown, but they will become tender.
  • Add the omatoes, beans, tarragon, and salt and pepper and bring toi a simmer, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir to deglaze the pan, meaning pull up any little bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the harissa, if using, and cream and allow to heat through for another minute.
  • Serve hot or warm, sprinkled with fresh parsley.

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