Pasta with Mushrooms

If you’ve read the book you’ve figured out we’re not big into rules and cooking is no exception. Think of this recipe as a template; food should please you, so adjust the recipe to please your palate. You might like more or less garlic, want more or less mushrooms, perhaps you don’t like tarragon (hard for us to imagine) or like olive oil as a finish instead of truffle oil.  Play with the recipe.

We love mushrooms.  White. Crimini. Shitake. Trumpet. Portobello. Porcini. And our all time orgasmic favorites –fresh Morels (which fall into the super-duper-extra-super-splurge category and never make it into our pasta sauce.)

We also adore fresh herbs. In the summer we grow our own. We used to have an herb garden on our windowsill in the winter but are too occupied to be a good gardener these days. On our must-grow list are: parsley, tarragon, thyme, lemon verbena, basil, and oregano.

This is simple and delicious. We have found that Costco occasionally has big containers of dried mixed mushrooms. Just make sure that Porcini mushrooms are in the mix; they offer a deep woody flavor. Or else buy them dried in small packets at your supermarket.

The B*s Mushroom Sauce

3-4 cups of sliced assorted fresh mushrooms

1 oz. dried mushrooms (Porcinis if possible) reconstituted

3-6 tbsp olive oil

1 diced onion

3 cloves of garlic minced

Salt

Pepper

Fresh tarragon (lots!)

Red pepper flakes (optional)

1 can San Marzano tomatoes (optional)

Shaved Parmesan Reggiano cheese

Drizzle of Truffle Oil

1 lb Pasta (We LOVE Setaro brand, but it’s hard to find and very pricey –think of it as a little luxury)


Fill a measuring cup with 1 cup of very warm water. Put a big handful (approximately 1 oz) of dried mushrooms in it to reconstitute. We’ve found they float to the surface, so we take a ramekin filled with water and place it right on top to weight the mushrooms down. We allow 30 minutes for them to soften, but depending on the mushroom mix it can be faster. Remove the mushrooms and strain the liquid through cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Save. While the liquid adds flavor, it can be a little ‘bitter,’ so taste it and add it in carefully.

Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet. Add the garlic and onion and cook over medium heat until translucent. Do not allow them to brown– if they’re cooking too fast lower the heat. Then add the mushrooms. Slowly cook until the mushrooms release their juices. (If you’re using tomatoes add them in now.) Put in the chopped fresh tarragon, lots of salt and pepper, and the liquid you want to use from the dried mushrooms.  Cook at for another 15 minutes at medium low. Careful to not let the liquid evaporate.

This is a touchy feely kind of recipe.  Each time we make it, it’s slightly different depending on the mushroom mix. The goal is to have it be juicy enough to ‘sauce’ the pasta. What we often do with this (and all of our pasta sauces) is add cooking liquid from the pasta. It should never be watery or soupy, though.

Once your pasta is almost completely cooked, drain and add it to the mushroom sauce. Finish cooking it in the mushroom saucepan and the pasta will absorb the wonderful mushroomy flavor.

Plate the pasta, drizzle it with truffle oil, add freshly chopped tarragon, a handful of red pepper flakes, and liberal shavings of fresh Parmesan Reggiano cheese.