Monday, October 13, 2008

Easy Easy Mushroom Pasta

I have gotten dinner on the table in way less than an hour with this easy and tasty Mushroom Pasta recipe. Not only is it easy, but it also freezes beautifully. I find myself making a large pot and freezing left overs for my fiance when he needs a quick week night meal.

To get the most flavors into this recipe, I use a mix of mushrooms - baby bella, plain ol' white ones, oyster, and dried shiitake. The two reasons why I use shiitake is that I have it in my pantry, and that it is dried so it is more flavorful. You can use dried porcini if you like. Make sure to reserve the liquid used to rehydrate them. If you don't have dried mushrooms, that's fine...just substitute the reserved liquid with chicken stock.

In terms of the herbs, fresh is always preferred. Since this is my go-to recipe, I usually resort to the dried ones in my pantry. If you're using fresh herbs, roughly double up on the measurements, as dried ones are stronger.

A time saving tip to this recipe is to use sliced mushrooms from the supermarket. Strangely, they cost less than whole mushrooms in my local supermarket and they are usually in better shape than whole mushrooms (which I have seen were moldy on occasions), so that's why I started using them.

I'll write another post on the steps I follow for most pasta recipes to make them flavorful.

Mushroom Pasta
serves 2

2 8oz package sliced mushrooms (baby bella and white)
2 oyster mushroom, sliced (optional)

6 dried shiitake mushroom, rehydrated and sliced
(or dried porcini, whatever you have on hand)
1/2 C of reserved liquid from dried mushrooms (or chicken stock)
1 small onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup white wine
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

olive oil

salt & pepper
1 tablespoon butter
half a package of linguine
pasta water
fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Boil water for the linguine in a pot and add a big pinch of salt and pasta when the water starts boiling. At the same time, saute onions in oil over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes in a pan big enough for tossing pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and toss around for a minute or two, until fragrant. Add mushrooms, oregano, dried parsley, thyme, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms have released their liquids, about 5-10 minutes, depending on how much you have in the pan.

Add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the white wine and scrape off any yummy goodness sticking to the bottom of the pan. In about 2 minutes, add the reserved mushroom liquid - be careful not to pour in the sediments that settled in the bottom of the liquid. If pasta is now cooked half way, add to the pan in a minute or so. If pasta is not cooked half way yet, reduce the heat of the sauce pan to low and wait til it's there.

Once pasta is added to the pan, add in about 1/2 cup of pasta water. Cook in the sauce until al dente ("to the tooth" or basically has a bite). If the pasta is a bit dry, simply add more pasta liquid - the starch in there should thicken it up. If the pasta is too wet, either reduce the sauce over heat, or add in bread crumbs to soak up the moisture.

When you have enough sauce, turn off the heat. Add the butter and garnish with fresh parsley. Dinner is served!

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