Some people have exciting lives–they go out, they read a book, they spend time with a significant other. Me? Well, Tuesday night found me alone in the kitchen with a giant vat of mushroom sauce. I suppose a Friday night pasta sauce date would have been a teeny bit more absurd, but as I was stirring and tasting and adding a bit more salt every thirty minutes or so, I realized how ridiculous I must look to any outsider. There’s only one of me and I’d filled my 8 quart pot to the gills with tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, wine, and coffee.

Coffee, you ask? I wish I could tell you a bit more about the science behind it, but the coffee does add a nice mellow bitter taste to the sauce. It actually counteracts some of the acid in the tomatoes and wine. The other ingredients are fairly standard. The main component, of course, is love. And time. Lots of time. Be sure to set aside at least four hours to simmer this baby down to deliciousness–and then be prepared to bag or quart jar it for the freezer. I ended up with seven quarts of sauce, which, well, is more than enough for my single self for quite some time. But gosh darn is it delicious.

Almost Meaty Mushroom Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
3 medium-large onions, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic chopped
3 28 oz can diced tomatoes
24 oz tomato sauce
18 oz tomato paste
1 1/2 c red wine
1/3 c brewed coffee
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp salt + more to taste
1/2 tsp freshly grated pepper + more to taste
24 oz mixed mushrooms, chopped (I used 8 oz white button, 16 oz portobello)

In a large (and I mean large) pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and peppers and cook for 5 minutes, until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute until fragrant.

Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, red wine, brewed coffee, and herbs, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

Add the chopped mushrooms.

Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 2-3 hours, until the sauce cooks down to a desired thickness. Let cool, then store in jars or freezer grade plastic bags in the freezer.

Makes 6-7 quarts.

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