Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Toasted Mushroom Pasta: The First Signs of Spring and Setting Goals for 2010

Despite a crippling winter this year, it seems that Spring is taking its first steps into the sunlight.

Of course, this could be the beginning of an equally crippling summer, but I can enjoy the more temperate mid-season for the time being. I was (finally) able to start training for the Baltimore 10-Miler with my buddy, Indira - outdoors no less - running along the pathways through Patterson Park. It was all very scenic.

So Spring, in short, is a good motivator. The warmer temperatures and natural sunlight inspire me to get off the couch, clean off the cobwebs and seasonal affect disorder, and get to work on some of my other goals for the year, such as...

Realistic Goal for 2010 #1: Finish and return copy of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" that I borrowed from my mother-in-law about, oh, 16 months ago.

Not-so-realistic Goal for 2010 #1: Learn to surf. Preferably without significant physical damage to self, others, or the local fauna in the process.

Realistic Goal for 2010 #2: Finish crochet projects for numerous, numerous number of children recently and soon-to-be born to various friends and loved ones.

Not-so-realistic Goal for 2010 #2: Convince NZ government that they should pay for me to live in Wellington.

See? There's loads to do!

The sunlight also inspired me to try something on the lighter side of home cooking, so last night I borrowed from Ali at Give Me Some Oven and made some Toasted Mushroom Pasta.

As I've mentioned before, I'm generally not a big fan of mushrooms. But, I've learned that statement is generally limited to button mushrooms. And olives, which suck mightily, but that's another post entirely. Anywho, substitute baby bellas (left over from last week's pot roast) and you've got yourself a meal! A friggin' tasty one at that, too...

(Admittedly not the best photos, but trust me - it's deceptively delicious.)

Happily, this recipe is pretty easy to convert into a vegetarian dish. It's also easy on your budget and personal time, which is all kinds of good in my book. Make it while listening to Paolo Nutini's new album as you finish the bottle of white wine partially used in the recipe.

You'll be toasting the new Spring all evening.


Toasted Mushroom Pasta
(From Give Me Some Oven and adapted from No Tea After 12)


3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. butter

8 oz. fresh mushrooms (approx 2 cups), cleaned and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 tsp. dried oregano

½ cup dry white wine

8 oz macaroni or other pasta

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

¼ cup cream

¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

salt to taste


Heat a large heavy skillet over very high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan. Sautee the mushrooms until browned, but not cooked all the way through, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat and add the parsley, garlic, oregano and cook for another minute or so. Pour in the wine and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and remaining sauce to a bowl, and set aside.

In another large skillet or saucepan, add the remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil and the butter. Add the macaroni and stir it constantly until it is a deep golden brown (this should take about 5 minutes). Be sure to watch carefully, as the pasta can go from toasted to burnt very quickly!!

Once toasted, pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the pasta is al dente, or almost tender. (This should take approximately 10 minutes.)

Stir in the mushroom mixture and cream and cook for a few more minutes to let everything come together in a beautiful creamy, but not claggy sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan and pepper. Taste for seasoning, add salt if needed, but the Parmesan is usually just salty enough. Sprinkle with a bit of fresh parsley, and more Parmesan if you’d like.


Suz said...

Girl with a Dragon Tattoo is AWESOME..but you have to just get through the first 100 pages or so. After that, it's a total page-turner. I'm now on the 2nd book, I'm so into it.

Sooz said...

Hmmm....good recipe! I made an artichoke chicken recipe (subbing tofu for chicken) from Ask Aida the other week that reminds me of this in that it used white wine and similar seasonings. Plus mushrooms and artichokes both have an intensity to their flavor that might complement each other. I might do a mash-up of the two and sub wheat berries (my new favorite thing) in place of pasta. Love the blog!!!

Adj said...

Thanks, Ladies! And Suz, you were right - it was a GREAT book!