Pappardelle is best suited to thick, rich and often meaty sauces, but this one uses potent Dried Mushrooms and their stock with silky aubergine flesh to create a ragu that is just as satisfying and also vegan friendly.
15g Dried Porcini Mushrooms (you can use one or other types of mushrooms, but make the total amount 30g)
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
250g fresh flat or chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped into 2-3cm pieces
125ml white wine
100g shelled walnuts, lightly roasted for 5 minutes at 150C/Fan 130C/Gas Mark 2
½ vegetable stock cube
Salt and pepper, to taste
If you have a gas hob, or gas BBQ, it is ideal to cook the aubergines as it will give them a smokey flavour. If not, heat an oven to 220C/Fan 200C/Gas Mark 7. When hot, pierce each aubergine a few times with a knife then place on a tray and put in the oven. Roast for 25 minutes.
Pour 300ml of boiling water on to the Dried Mushrooms and allow to soak.
Place a large frying pan on a medium to high heat and when hot, add the Olive Oil, onions, garlic and herbs, season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes or until soft and golden, turning down the heat if they are beginning to go dark around the edges.
Add the fresh mushrooms to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, so they have begun to soften. Add the wine and allow to reduce by half. Add half of the walnuts, the soaked Dried Mushrooms and their stock, the stock cube and the Balsamic Vinegar. Bring up to a simmer then place a lid on the pan, turn down heat and cook for 20 minutes.
When the aubergines are cool enough to handle, make a cut though the middle and carefully scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
Remove the lid from the pan and add the aubergines, along with any juice. Stir to combine without completely breaking down the aubergine flesh. Bring up the heat so the mixture reduces and thickens, then taste and season again. Set aside until ready to use.
Place a large pot of salted water on a high heat and cover. When it is boiling, add the Pappardelle and stir with a spoon to avoid it sticking. Turn the heat down to a gentle boil and cook for around 14 minutes, or until al dente, although different brands will vary in cooking time.
Removed the Pappardelle from the pot and add to the ragu. Continue to cook in the ragu for 2 minutes, adding a little pasta water to loosen if necessary. Use tongs to divide between plates then crunch the remaining walnuts over the top.