A Reverse Veggie Fake-Out! Pasta with Mushroom Meat Sauce

I hate mushrooms.

Well, perhaps hate is too strong of a word.  If you have me over for a dinner party, and have painstakingly worked on, say, a chicken marsala, or a beef wellington, its not like I am going to sit there and pick the offending morsels out of my meal.  I’ll eat them, and the mushrooms won’t really taste terrible, just kind of bleh, and I will smile, but secretly be wondering to myself what all the lustful sighs elsewhere at the table are about.  Just like I wondered what the frenzy was about when I was shopping for this very recipe, and the crowd at the Park Slope Food Coop descended upon the poor woman stocking the shelves with the last crate of Criminis like she was the shrimp cocktail server at a wedding.  I mean, do people actually get cravings for mushrooms?

According to my beloved Dr. Weill, my Mushroom Malevolence is robbing yours truly of all sorts of healthy things that do a body good.  To name but a few – copious amounts of selenium (which aids the body in proper use of antioxidants), blood-health superstars like copper and iron, zinc (BFF of your immune system), and loads of niacin (which protects against age-related cognitive decline).  Did you know that people with a diet rich in niacin have a 70% reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease?

Its time for a Reverse Veggie Fake-Out!

Kitty’s Mushroom Meat Sauce
makes a huge pot (halve the recipe for 4 hearty servings, or freeze half for later)

1 large onion, chopped
3 or 4 carrots, diced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 pounds ground grass-fed* beef
1 pound Crimini mushrooms, chopped
6 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
2 – 28oz cans chopped tomatoes (I used 2 – 26 oz boxes of Pomi)
2 handfuls swiss chard leaves, roughly chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper

*Grass-fed beef is naturally extremely low in fat.  If you are making this recipe with traditional ground beef, its important to buy the lowest fat beef available to you, or the sauce will become very greasy.*

1) In a large 5 quart+ pot set over medium heat, saute the onion and carrot with a pinch of salt in olive oil.  After 5 or 6 minutes, add the oregano, and follow with the balsamic vinegar.  Allow the vinegar to cook down till syrupy (a minute or so).

2) Add the ground beef to the pot, and break up until its thoroughly cooked and no longer pink, about 5 minutes, adding another pinch of salt and some black pepper.

3) Add the mushrooms, garlic, and tomatoes to the pot.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for at least 15 minutes.  Taste to adjust seasonings.  5 minutes or so before serving, stir in the swiss chard until it just wilts.

4) Serve over your favorite pasta with plenty of grated cheese and some fresh basil.  I used a lasagnotti cut, which was perfect for this thick sauce, but a ridged tube pasta would work well also.

It seems only fitting that after years of subjecting my husband to foods that would normally make his skin crawl, that I should treat myself to a dose of my own medicine, and I am happy to say, this medicine went down really easily.  The mushrooms’ meaty texture was a perfect blend with the ground beef, and the addition of carrot and swiss chard made for a hearty and decidedly autumnal meal. Even Husband had to agree that this was one tasty dish, polishing off a generously mushroom-filled portion.  I am thrilled to report that this recipe also earned the coveted My Husband Hates Veggies Munchkin Seal of Approval, with confused but elated cries of “eeeetball! eeetball!” shouted for all of Brooklyn to hear.

On the MHHV official broccoli head rating scale, I give this Veggie Fake-Out! Recipe 7 out of 10 heads of broccoli.

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