Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In which I blog about delicious dishes, with no visual aids...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I really fell down on the job last week as far as food photography goes. I was just hustling and bustling every day, preparing for my trip to Washington and attempting to finish a paper and reading for class. I simply didn't have time to photograph our meals! Not that my pictures really add much-did you SEE this ridiculous representation of my chicken parmigiana?

Needless to say, I did want to write about "Wild About Mushrooms Sauce with Whole Wheat Pasta, Arugula, and Hazelnuts." Whew. That was a mouthful of a title, Rachael.

I'm always trying to find recipes including whole wheat pasta that my husband will actually enjoy. He'll eat just about anything, but it doesn't necessarily mean he likes it! We love pasta, so I know that I need to try to make it as healthy as possible, considering the number of times we eat it on a weekly monthly basis. This dish makes three whole wheat pasta dishes with the husband's stamp of approval, the other two being "Cold Chicken Satay Noodles" and "Whole Wheat Pasta Arrabiata with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes and Arugula." Both of those are super-yummy and worthy of individual posts-you know, I think I might have even written about the satay noodles before...

I made a few changes based on what I had on hand, but the dish could only have been improved upon, and it tasted heavenly just as it was. I say this, however, with a full acknowledgment of my love for mushrooms. A plateful of sliced mushrooms, sauteed in olive oil and garlic, is hard to beat.

Wild About Mushrooms Sauce with Whole-Wheat Pasta, Arugula, and Hazelnuts, from Just in Time, by Rachael Ray

1 pound whole-wheat gemelli or penne pasta (I used rotelle)
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (These are pricey, but I definitely would have picked them up. I'm quite confident that the depth of flavor would have been exponentially better, but I had to make do with what I had at home!)
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup EVOO, 4 times around the pan
8 portobello mushroom caps, wiped clean and sliced
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced (I only had a box of baby portobellos, and I still devoured my dinner-imagine the possibilities if I had made just one quick trip to the grocery store!)*
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
5 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
coarse black pepper
2 cups arugula leaves, shredded
Pecorino Romano, or other sheep's-milk cheese, for shaving or grating liberally
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
Luxurious option for really earthy mushroom freaks: truffle oil, for drizzing
*Mushrooms are never a truly cheap option, but I love 'em.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta al dente.
2. While the pasta water is coming to a boil, place the porcini mushrooms in a small pot with the stock and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low adn simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender.
3. In a deep skillet heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the portobellos, shiitakes, garlic, shallots, thyme, allspice, and pepper. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are dark and tender. Transfer half the mushrooms to a food processor. Draw off a cup of porcini-flavored stock and add to the processor. Finely chop the mushrooms into a thick puree and add back to the skillet. Use a slotted spoon to lift the porcinis out of the remaining stock; chop and add to the skillet. Ladle in the remaining stock but do not add the last spoonfuls at the bottom of the pot, as any grit in the dried mushrooms will have settled there. Season the sauce with salt to taste. Remove the thyme stems.
4. Drain the pasta when it still has a nice bite to it and add it to the mushroom sauce. Cook together for a minute so the pasta can absorb the mushroom flavor. Add the arugula and toss together until it is wilted. Adjust the seasonings. Top bowlfuls of pasta with cheese and nuts, and with a drizzle of truffle oil if you want to experience true 'shroom madness!

Obviously, I was missing QUITE a bit of the ingredients, so my prep time was short and not at all difficult. I am very sure, however, that expending all the time and effort on this recipe would produce really wonderful results.

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