New Year’s Recipe: Chef Eric Ripert’s Mushroom Bolognese (2024)

Thanks to his Wine Spectator Grand Award–winning Le Bernardin in New York City, chef Eric Ripert is globally renowned as a master of seafood. But vegetables are what stand out in his mind when he thinks back to his childhood in southern France.

“It was something that I grew up with and loved very, very much,” says Ripert, who recalls a veggie-heavy diet and trips to the market with his grandmother. “The cooking was very simple, but it was about highlighting the quality of the vegetables.”

Ripert hasn’t stopped drawing from that style of cuisine. In the summers, he hosts dinner parties at his home in the Hamptons that are completely centered around a medley of vegetable dishes, showcasing his finds from the farmstand that morning. “I take great pleasure in making seven, eight, 10 different recipes with what I find, and I put them in the center of the table,” he says. “It's very convivial. Everybody helps each other, and we have some fantastic meals like that.”

All this led Ripert to publish Vegetable Simple earlier this year, a departure from his previous five cookbooks focused on seafood. While the recipes are exclusively vegetarian, he stresses that the book is not anti-meat or -fish, nor is it based on the health and climate benefits of a plant-based diet (though those are an added bonus). “This book is not to be preachy; if you want to make steak and chicken and have vegetables with it, I'm happy,” he says. “I'm not judging anyone. It's just a testimony to vegetables that I wanted to highlight and pay homage to.”

Still, some of the recipes prove that vegetables can be an exciting stand-in for hearty proteins when treated correctly, like the mushroom Bolognese Ripert suggests for New Year’s celebrations.

The traditional meaty rendition is Ripert’s go-to room service order whenever he’s traveling, since it’s so comforting and satisfying. But at home, he developed a mushroom-based version that skews lighter yet still has the consistency and depth of flavor of its counterpart. He was pleasantly surprised by the results, and that’s what wound up in the book, as well as on the menu at Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, adjacent to Le Bernardin. “I was amazed by the texture, and I was amazed by the flavor,” he says. “I served it to my family, and nobody knew there was no meat in it!”

One of the reasons this dish works well for a holiday dinner is that it is, of course, simple. Mushrooms get pulsed in a food processor until the pieces resemble ground beef; they are then cooked with aromatic garlic and shallot and browned a bit for caramelization and color. The tomatoes join in with some seasonings before the sauce meets the tagliatelle, or any pasta shape you like.

After experimenting with various kinds of mushrooms, Ripert found that inexpensive, widely available button mushrooms are an excellent choice. “You don't need to complicate the recipe with expensive fungus,” he says, but if you have others like cremini or maitake on hand, feel free to add them. Fresh tomatoes can be used in the late summer months, but for the rest of the year, go with high-quality canned ones.

If you’re entertaining a larger group, you can double the recipe, pulsing the mushrooms in batches if your food processor isn’t large enough. For a surefire way to make the feast festive on a special occasion, Ripert suggests shaving white or black truffle over the top.

Ripert highly advises making this day-of. “If you do the sauce too much in advance, or if you cook it for too long, the mushrooms will give a brown color to your sauce. It will not be as vibrant,” he says. “And the mushrooms are powerful, so they will also take over the flavor of the tomato, and what you want is a good balance between the tomato flavor and the mushroom.” If you have time, let the finished sauce simmer or sit for about 10 minutes before serving immediately to maintain the brightness of the tomatoes.

When it comes to the wine pairing, Ripert’s pick is exactly what he’d recommend for a standard Bolognese at a celebratory meal: “A nice Italian super Tuscan, maybe a Gaja or Sassicaia,” he says. “The dish is light, but it’s powerful in flavor, so you need a wine that can sustain the power of the dish.” Go with an older vintage if you can (Ripert prefers at least 15 years of age), or see Wine Spectator’s additional picks below for recently released Italian reds that are accessible but still bold enough for this very “meaty” meatless dish.

Mushroom Bolognese

Excerpted from VEGETABLE SIMPLE by Eric Ripert. Copyright © 2020 by Eric Ripert. Excerpted by permission of Random House, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 4 cups whole button mushrooms, ground or pulsed in a food processor
  • 3 maitake mushrooms, ground or pulsed in a food processor (about 1 1/2 loosely packed cups)
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 cup red wine, reduced to 1/4 cup
  • 16 ounces canned tomatoes, pureed in a food processor
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
  • 12 ounces tagliatelle
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


1. In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, reduce the heat to low, and sweat the vegetables for 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Add the mushrooms and stir well. Increase the heat to medium-high and season the mixture with salt and white pepper. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the mushroom liquid releases and begins to reduce.

3. Add the reduced wine and cook until the mixture is nearly dry. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Sriracha. Adjust the seasoning with salt and white pepper to taste, cover, and keep warm while you cook the tagliatelle.

4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a large pinch of salt, add the tagliatelle, and cook to al dente, according to the package directions.

5. Drain the pasta and divide it among four warmed bowls. Ladle the sauce over each portion of pasta and serve. If desired, garnish with parmesan. Serves 4.

10 Robust Italian Reds

Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More options can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.


Toscana Il Volano 2019

Score: 91 | $16

WS review: Dark black cherry, blackberry, plum, eucalyptus, earth and iron flavors are embraced by beefy tannins in this red, which comes together on the lingering finish. Sangiovese and Merlot. Best from 2023 through 2030. 3,000 cases made. From Italy.—Bruce Sanderson


Toscana Yantra 2019

Score: 93 | $25

WS review: A mouthful of black currant, blackberry, violet, cedar and iron lends immediate gratification in this polished red. Vibrant and balanced, with a long, firm finish that echoes dark fruit and mineral. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Best from 2023 through 2035. 5,000 cases made. From Italy.—B.S.


Toscana Belnero 2017

Score: 92 | $29

WS review: Ripe black cherry fruit is at the core of this red, along with accents of iron, tar, eucalyptus and spice. This is balanced, lingering on the finish with elements of fruit, wild herbs, mineral and spice. Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. Best from 2023 through 2033. 7,500 cases made. From Italy.—B.S.


Cabernet Sauvignon-Sangiovese Toscana San Pio 2017

Score: 91 | $31

WS review: The black currant and plum flavors are framed by cedar, earth and oak spice in this sleek red. The finish is compact now, courtesy of its dense, dusty tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. Best from 2024 through 2037. 2,000 cases made. From Italy.—B.S.


Toscana Il Fauno di Arcanum 2017

Score: 90 | $35

WS review: A smoky version, whose black cherry, earth, wild thyme and cedar notes are tightly bound with the dense matrix of tannins. An accent of licorice seeps in as this winds down on the finish. Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2025. 11,000 cases made. From Italy.—B.S.


Toscana NC 2018

Score: 90 | $23

WS review: A bit reserved, with ample black cherry, black currant and spice flavors set within a solid structure. Fresh and focused, it lingers, echoing the fruit and adding an iron note. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Sangiovese. Drink now through 2032. 12,500 cases made. From Italy.—B.S.


Toscana Lucente 2018

Score: 90 | $30

WS review: Reserved, this red holds black cherry, plum, herb and iron flavors close, with dusty tannins putting a lock on the finish. Has depth, with the fruit elements lingering on the finish. Merlot and Sangiovese. Drink now through 2025. 7,500 cases imported. From Italy.—B.S.


Toscana Mediterra 2019

Score: 90 | $30

WS review: A pretty red, bursting with blackberry, violet, bacon and black pepper flavors, matched to a firm yet refined structure. Vibrant and balanced, with oak spice accents lingering on the finish. Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Best from 2023 through 2033. 10,833 cases made. From Italy.—B.S.


Toscana Modus 2017

Score: 90 | $28

WS review: Broad and concentrated, revealing black cherry, blackberry, iron and oak spice flavors. Dense tannins provide plenty of structure, and the fruit holds its own in the end. Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Best from 2023 through 2030. 37,340 cases made. From Italy.—B.S.


Toscana Al Passo 2017

Score: 90 | $27

WS review: A mix of black cherry, black currant, cedar, iron and tobacco flavors grace this taut red. Nicely balanced and vibrant, ends with a long, tobacco- and spice-tinged finish. Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now through 2027. 8,850 cases made. From Italy.—B.S.

New Year’s Recipe: Chef Eric Ripert’s Mushroom Bolognese (2024)


New Year’s Recipe: Chef Eric Ripert’s Mushroom Bolognese? ›

Suggested Pairing

Wine: Earthy, red currant-fruited Nebbiolo.

What can I add to my Bolognese sauce to make it taste better? ›

6 Things That'll Make Your Spaghetti Bolognese Taste SO Much...
  1. Milk. Adding milk to Bolognese is actually a part of the traditional method. ...
  2. Sundried Tomatoes. I can't get enough of sundried toms, and I have been known to sneak a few straight from the jar (boujee snack alert). ...
  3. Anchovies. ...
  4. Wine. ...
  5. Porcini mushrooms. ...
  6. Sugar.
Nov 20, 2019

What wine goes with mushroom bolognese? ›

Suggested Pairing

Wine: Earthy, red currant-fruited Nebbiolo.

Is it better to make bolognese the day before? ›

Cooking the bolognese the night before and leaving it in the fridge overnight will give your dish an even more delicious flavour. So as you know the base ingredients for a recipe are very important. Bolognese is a simple and straightforward dish to make, so it's important to get the core ingredients right.

How do you get rich flavor in bolognese? ›

For the bolognese all spice, cinnamon, and garlic powder really enhance the flavor of the meat. For the tomato sauce, fresh basil, bay leaves, and dried oregano are my herbs of choice, but feel free to mix it up! You can use dried basil, generic Italian seasoning, parsley, thyme.

Why add vinegar to bolognese? ›

And as an added bonus, both the plums and the vinegar have some great benefits for digestion, energy, and as an antibacterial boost. Umeboshi vinegar is a deep reddish purple. Perfect for adding both the depth of flavour and colour into our bolognese sauce!

Should I add milk or butter to bolognese? ›

Did you know that classic bolognese should always be made with milk.

What do Italians drink with Bolognese? ›

Barolo and Barbaresco are Italy's most prized reds (they're often called the king and queen). Both made from the Nebbiolo grape, they have beautiful aromatics and a serious acid-tannin structure that are fantastic with Bolognese.

What do Italians eat Bolognese sauce with? ›

Traditional service and use

In Bologna ragù is traditionally paired and served with tagliatelle made with eggs and northern Italy's soft wheat flour. Acceptable alternatives to fresh tagliatelle include other broad flat pasta shapes, such as pappardelle or fettuccine, and tube shapes, such as rigatoni and penne.

What's the best pasta for Bolognese? ›

For Meat Sauces

Known as Bolognese in Italy, these classic slow-simmered sauces are often a Sunday treat at Nonna's house. If you want to best capture these hearty sauces, serve them with traditional tube-shaped pasta—like Rigatoni and Tortiglioni—or deep scoopable shapes like Shells and Orecchiette.

What is the difference between Italian bolognese and American bolognese? ›

The American bolognese is essentially a southern-Italy style ragù with minced meat instead of meat in pieces, which means that it's very rich in tomato, and it has a too short cooking time. Besides, it tends to include a huge number of pointless ingredients and often the wine is used in the wrong way.

What is the difference between a bolognese and a Ragu? ›

Even though both are considered meat sauces and are thusly chunky, ragù is more like a thick tomato sauce with recognizable bits of ground beef within it. Bolognese, though, is creamier and thicker because it is made with milk. It is not considered to be a tomato sauce.

What kind of onion for bolognese? ›

Yellow Onions

The relatively high starch content of these workhorse onions means they are able to withstand high and long cooking times without falling apart. Yellow onions are ideal for flavorful dishes that have to cook for a while, such as bolognese.

What is the missing ingredient in bolognese sauce? ›

If you are missing an umami note, it's possible you are missing a very common ingredient in bolognese - chicken livers. These give a meaty, almost sweet flavour. Soak them in water for a few minutes, then finely chop or pulse in a food processor. I use minced (ground) pork, beef and chicken livers.

Why do Italians add milk to bolognese? ›

Bolognese sauce, also known as ragù alla bolognese, is a classic Italian meat-based sauce that is typically made with milk or cream to add richness and depth of flavor. However, it is possible to make a delicious Bolognese sauce without using milk or cream.

What thickens bolognese sauce? ›

Cornstarch: Make a slurry of half water, half cornstarch and whisk until smooth. Cornstarch is a powerful thickener, so start by whisking in no more than 1 tablespoon of the mixture per 2 cups of simmering sauce; stir and simmer for 2 minutes, check the thickness, and repeat with more slurry as needed.

How do you fix a tasteless bolognese? ›

🌿 Spice it Up: Enhance flavor by adding herbs and spices like garlic, basil, oregano, or red pepper flakes.

How do you elevate a jar of bolognese sauce? ›

Mix in Some Meat

Mixing meat into your jarred pasta sauce will do wonders for making it taste high-quality. Browning and adding some sausage, turkey, chicken or ground beef will increase your sauce's flavor, incorporate extra texture, infuse a heartier taste and up the protein content.

How do you fix bad bolognese sauce? ›

The Fix Is Simple—Add Water Back.

Here's how fix a broken sauce: Add about ¼ cup of water to the pan and reheat the sauce to a vigorous simmer, whisking constantly. The bubbling action will help re-emulsify the butter and bring back that thick, glossy sauce.

Why add cream to bolognese sauce? ›

Bolognese sauce, also known as ragù alla bolognese, is a classic Italian meat-based sauce that is typically made with milk or cream to add richness and depth of flavor. However, it is possible to make a delicious Bolognese sauce without using milk or cream.

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