Happy National Pasta Day!!! Woohoo a day to celebrate the greatest carb ever invented and my one true love…PASTA!!! In honor of this glorious day I decided to post a recipe that marry 2 of my favourite ingredients – pasta and mushrooms. Now I’m not talking your average run-of-the-mill button mushroom. I’m talking exotic, earthy burst of flavour mushrooms – cremini, shiitake, oyster, enoki, portobello and porchini.
The inspiration for this recipe comes from one of my favourite Italian restaurants Gusto 101.
My favourite pasta dish, hands down, is Mafalde ai Funghi. It’s ribbons of pasta with forest mushrooms all dressed in a beautiful truffle cream sauce….it’s heaven in your mouth! The silky, buttery sauce is the perfect compliment for the earthy mushrooms.
Now since I can’t go to Gusto whenever I want, especially now that we got a little guy, I tried to make it at home and let me tell you, it was pretty darn close! So without any further adieu, let’s get started!
For this recipe you want A LOT, and I mean A LOT of mushrooms. I like to use a combination of both fresh and dried forest mushrooms. The grocery store carries a variety pack of gourmet mushrooms which usually include an assortment of: cremini, oyster and shiitake mushrooms. You can also find the dried mushrooms in the European specialty section.
I first start off by bringing 2 cups of chicken stock to a boil in a small sauce pan so that I can re-hydrate the dried forest mushrooms. You can always do this using water or vegetable stock. Once it is boiling, pop the mushrooms in, turn off the heat and pop on the lid. Let nature take its course and plump up those morsels with flavour!
Next, using a large skillet, I heat up some oil with butter over medium-high and add half of a diced red onion (you can use whatever variety you have on hand). As they onion is sautéing, I start to slice up all of my mushrooms nice and thin. Remember to remove the talks of the shiitake and portobello.
Once the onions are translucent, you know that it is good to go. Drop all of your mushrooms into the hot tub along with a tablespoon of minced garlic and a few sprigs of thyme. I also add in a few pats of butter (yes this is a decadent recipe, but it’s National Pasta Day, you’re allowed a few extra calories!) Toss everything around until it starts to cook down. Now don’t be worried if it looks like you’re going to throw a few shrooms overboard. Give it a few minutes and as they start to render their moisture and you will begin to have more room in the pan. You want to let everything cook for 5-7 minutes stirring every now and then.
After a few minutes, you will notice some liquid in your pan. Using a slotted spoon, start to add the re-hydrated mushrooms and some of the liquid. You want to avoid the last few tablespoons of liquid because that is where all of the extra grit from the mushrooms have settled.
At this point you are ready to season. The reason you want to wait until this point to add salt and pepper is because you want all of the natural flavours of the mushrooms to develop. If you add salt to the dish right away, it will draw out the liquid from your mushrooms (a little tip I learned from Rachael Ray). I add a few pinches of salt, lots of black pepper, a tablespoon of dried oregano and parsley and mix everything together.
Turn off the heat and toss everything around for a few minutes. Don’t rush this step, you want to take your time to make sure that the sauce coats every strand of pasta and that the mushrooms infuse together with the lemon zest.
I hope that you try this out and let me know what you think. Celebrate National Pasta Day with your favourite bowl by taking a picture and tagging me in it. Love to see what you’re eating and it may inspire me for a new recipe! My love for carbohydrates is endless!