As a new mum, these days Ella Mills is all about meals that won’t be ruined if you turn your back for a moment.

She’s a big fan of recipes like this mushroom and walnut ragu, which "you don’t need to have strict timers on. When you’ve got a crawler trying to go for every electrical socket – that really, really helps," she adds with a laugh. "Anything that might burn if you don’t have your timer on perfectly for three minutes is a real no-go these days."

Mushroom and walnut ragu recipe

Ingredients:

Serves: 4, with a little leftover

  • 20g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 250ml boiling water
  • 100g walnuts
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • Olive oil
  • 400g chestnut or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • 1tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 × 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1tbsp tomato purée
  • 2tbsp tamari
  • 1–2tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 4 portions of pasta (about 80g per person)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Handful of chopped parsley, to serve
ragu
(Nassima Rothacker/PA)

Method:

  1. Start by soaking the dried mushrooms. Put them into a bowl with the boiling water and leave for 20 minutes. Once soaked, drain well (but keep the liquid), then cut the mushrooms into small pieces.
  2. While the mushrooms are soaking, chop the walnuts into tiny pieces – they need to look like large breadcrumbs. Place them in a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat and toast for about five minutes, until golden, stirring every now and again. Once toasted, remove from the heat and spoon into a bowl. Place the frying pan back on the heat.
  3. Add the onion, garlic and celery to the frying pan, along with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook for five to 10 minutes, until soft.
  4. Add the fresh mushrooms and red pepper, with the thyme, oregano and rosemary, and cook for about five minutes, until soft.
  5. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, tamari and dried mushrooms with their water. Leave to simmer for 10–15 minutes – you want the ragu to be thick and have lost the excess liquid. Stir in the walnuts and nutritional yeast and leave them to cook in the sauce for a final five minutes.
  6. While the ragu is simmering, cook your pasta in a pan of boiling water, following the instructions on the packet. Drain well then stir into the ragu once both are ready. Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

Deliciously Ella Quick & Easy: Plant-based Deliciousness by Ella Mills, recipe photography by Nassima Rothacker, is published by Yellow Kite. Available now.