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Portabella Cacciatore

Serves 4-6

Portobellas, peppers, Pecorino Romano cheese and pasta make this vegetarian dish a delicious variation on chicken or sausage cacciatore; it’s hearty enough to satisfy the meat-eaters in your family, too!


  • 5 cups vegetable or chicken stock, divided
  • 1 ounce dried porcini or mixed wild mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 6 portabella mushroom caps, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cubanelle peppers, halved, seeded and thinly sliced width-wise
  • 2 small ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram or oregano (1/3 palmful)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white or red wine (optional)
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes (15 ounces)
  • 1 pound regular or whole wheat rigatoni or penne pasta 
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus some to pass at table


  1. In a saucepan, heat the 4 cups of the stock along with the dried mushrooms and simmer to soften.
  2. Heat a large, heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with the EVOO, four turns of the pan. Add the mushroom caps and cook until darkened and softened, 12-15 minutes. Add the onion, peppers, celery, garlic, bay leaf, rosemary, crushed red pepper flakes, marjoram or oregano and salt and pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes more to soften. Stir in the tomato paste, cook for 1 minute, then add the remaining 1 cups stock and reduce for a minute or two.
  3. Remove the dried mushrooms from the stock with slotted spoon. Chop them up and add them to the skillet with the cacciatore. Add all but the last 2 tablespoons of warm stock to the stew, leaving any grit that may have settled in the bottom of the pot behind. Stir the tomatoes into the cacciatore and reduce the heat to simmer.
  4. Heat a large pot of water to a boil; salt it and cook the pasta to al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the hot pot. Remove the bay leaf from the cacciatore. Toss the pasta with the butter and cheese and two ladlefuls of cacciatore sauce.
  5. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls topped with additional cacciatore, passing extra cheese at the table.