Pumpkin Mushroom Ragu

4 servings
1 hr 45 min

Get ready for the best fall pasta dish you’ll ever have! This pumpkin mushroom ragu hits all the spots for fall comfort cooking: creamy, full of flavor, and not light on the pasta!

I love creamy pastas but sometimes I can’t handle too much heavy cream. Pumpkin is a great way to get some creaminess! It will also make your sauce the most beautiful orange color.

A note about “ragu”

True ragu must be cooked with a soffrito. I omitted the celery for this recipe. If you would like to include it, dice two stalks of celery and add them to the pan when you add the carrots.

Tips for making pumpkin mushroom ragu

Sauteeing the ingredients first to caramelize them helps bring out amazing flavor when you simmer the sauce. The sauce needs to simmer for one hour total in order to really extract the great flavors from the mushrooms and vegetables.

I first simmer the sauce covered. Covering the sauce first will create pressure in the pot and help release flavor. After about half an hour of simmering, you will uncover the pan to help thicken the sauce. From here you simmer the sauce for another 30 minutes. However, you can recover the pan at any time if the sauce gets to your desired thickness. For me, this took about 15 minutes, but this depends on what shape of pan you’re using. I used a saute pan which has a larger surface area which means liquid can evaporate more quickly. If you’re using a large pot or dutch oven you may need to keep it uncovered for longer.

I can tell when the sauce is done to my preference when I can scrape a wooden spoon against the bottom of the pan and the sauce doesn’t fill in the gap.

Another tip: I like to tie the thyme together with twine to make it easier to fish out later.

Reserving the pasta water

Before you drain the pasta, you’ll want to reserve some of the water. The water the pasta was cooked in contains a lot of starch. This will be helpful for when you add the pasta to the sauce and you need some liquid to break up the sauce a bit. The starchy water will help the sauce cling to the pasta.

Using dehydrated mushrooms

We got this big box of dehydrated mushrooms from Costco. For awhile we didn’t know what to do with them, but they were such a great mix of earthy mushrooms. They work really well with this dish. You need to soak and boil the mushrooms for about half an hour total. I like to replace some of the vegetable broth with the soaking liquid from the mushrooms. It adds such great flavor to the dish.

I hope you enjoy this pumpkin mushroom ragu! Check out my other pasta recipes:

Recipe details
  • 4  servings
  • Prep time: 15 Minutes Cook time: 90 Minutes Total time: 1 hr 45 min
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  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 lb spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb mushrooms, roughly chopped (earthy mushrooms like porcini, chanterelle, oyster, cremini)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or mushroom broth*
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 15- oz can pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped (plus more for garnish)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • parmesan rind (optional)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb pappardelle pasta
  • 2 cups reserved pasta water
  • parmagianno reggiano, for serving

In a large saute pan or large heavy bottom pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil at medium high heat. Saute spinach for about 4 minutes, or until the spinach starts to caramelize and brown slightly. Sprinkle kosher salt on spinach about halfway through cooking. Remove and set aside.
Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Saute mushrooms until moisture is released and slightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. About 2 minutes into cooking, sprinkle some kosher salt to help release moisture. If the mushrooms are looking too dry add a little more olive oil. Add freshly ground black pepper a few minutes before finished cooking. Remove and set aside with spinach.
Turn heat to medium. Add another tablespoon of olive oil and the butter. Cook onions for 5 minutes, sprinkling kosher salt halfway through. Add carrots. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes, lowering heat if the onions are starting to burn. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.
Turn the heat back up to medium if you turned it down. Add the white wine. Using a wooden spoon, immediately begin scraping up any browned bits stuck at the bottom of the pan. Continue to let the wine simmer for 2 minutes.
Add the broth, heavy cream, pumpkin, nutmeg, thyme, parsley, parmesan rind. Add in the spinach and mushrooms. Add about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper (or more). Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Uncover and simmer sauce for another 30 minutes. Re-cover at any point during the 30 minutes if sauce has reached desired consistency*. If the sauce ends up being too creamy and thick, add more broth. If you prefer more creaminess, add more heavy cream. If the sauce is too thin, continue simmering.
About 15 minutes before the sauce is done, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until just al dente*. Before draining, reserve about 1-2 cups of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and toss with sauce. Add some pasta water if the sauce needs thinning out. You most likely won’t need to use up all the pasta water. Garnish with parsley and serve with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.
  • Mushroom broth: If using dehydrated mushrooms, reserve some of the dehydration liquid and use that in place of half the stock. You can replace all of the stock with the mushroom soaking liquid, but it may taste a little too earthy.
  • Simmering uncovered: I needed to simmer the sauce for about 15 minutes before recovering the lid. I like simmering until I can scrape a wood spoon against the bottom of the pot and the sauce won’t fill in the space. The simmering time will vary depending on the shape of your pot. If you use a saucepan like me, your sauce will thicken more quickly than if you make it in a pot because there is more surface area for moisture to evaporate.
  • Pasta cooking time: To cook until just al dente, follow package instructions. If the package offers a range of time to cook, opt for the lower range.
Elle | SimpletoScratch
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