Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mushrooms, Delicious Mushrooms

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Mushrooms are, to me, often the height of decadence and deliciousness. Sometimes eating mushrooms just makes you feel like that's what eating is all about. During the 10 years I was a vegetarian, mushrooms were my favored steak substitute. A grilled portobello mushroom often tastes as steaky as steak! Mushrooms' flavor is often cited as the definition of umami. I would agree: indescribable and the essence of savoriness.

So when hubby and I received our order of mixed dried wild mushrooms from Local Harvest (thanks to a great holiday gift certificate from my parents), I was so excited. And I knew exactly what I'd make first: my mushroom pasta. It's simple. Delicious. Rich and luxurious. And it's SO EASY!

Dena's Mushroom Pasta

3/4 lb crimini mushrooms
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms
1/2 - 1 oz dried wild mushrooms (I used morel, chanterelle, lobster, etc)
As much garlic as you like (for us, that's about 6 cloves)
Pinch and a half of chili pepper flakes
Squeeze of lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp transfat-free fake butter
Pasta of your choice (I used whole wheat rotelle, but spaghetti is lovely in this dish, too)

Soak the dried mushrooms in very warm water for half an hour; drain (save the water/stock for later! It adds flavor to any dish), squeeze out water, and roughly chop.

Cook pasta.

Remove the stems and roughly chop the fresh mushrooms. Roughly chop garlic.

Pour 2 tbsp of olive oil into skillet set to medium-high. When the oil shimmers, add the fresh mushrooms and turn up the heat a bit. Stir them and keep stirring every 2 minutes or so to saute them over the high heat, letting them brown a bit and then keeping it moving so they don't burn, for about 5-7 minutes, or until the mushrooms have cooked down and turned a nice brown color.

Add reconstituted dried mushrooms and continue to stir for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and chili pepper flakes; toss and cook for about 2 minutes more.

Turn off heat and add drained pasta to skillet and combine with mushrooms. Add fake butter, remaining tbsp of olive oil, and squeeze of lemon juice and toss to combine.

Season with salt and pepper, top with grated parmesan, and ENJOY your umami experience.

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