Meatless Monday: Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes and Mushrooms

2014-09-08 at 17-20-08By my best estimate of I’m closing in on one of the final days of 2014 when I can write from my back patio. After all, I live in Syracuse, N.Y., so it could snow any minute. This is one of the very few things I enjoy doing outside. The list is short:

  1. Writing
  2. Enjoying alcoholic beverages
  3. Playing with The Kid
  4. Grilling
  5. Avoiding members of my family

Beyond that, I have little use for the outdoors. The Creator bequeathed Willis Havilland Carrier with intelligence to invent air conditioning and who am I to tempt fate?

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Back to the subject at hand: tonight’s dinner. The inspiration came directly from Julia’s Album, a food blog out there in the cosmos. The recipe looked good at its base, but I thought it could use a couple of changes to expand the flavor profile of the dish. The combination of sundried tomatoes, cream and mushrooms produced a sweet, earthy flavor, and I thought a little sherry would help.

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WHAT WORKED: I was right about the sherry. Cooking sherry is not as deep as a bottle of fino or amontillado, but does add a depth and creaminess to the base sauce.

WHAT DIDN’T: I would cut out the half-and-half and stay with heavy cream. In all, it was a thin sauce that ended up a little soupy. Taking back the 1/2 cup of half-and-half may have solved that.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: The Kid was red today (at her school, behavior is judged as red, yellow or green, with the latter being the preferred color) so we spent a little time hearing what our precious snowflake had done wrong. Luckily, she is at the age where she is forthcoming about such things.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE:  I think so. This might work out okay with a blend of wild mushrooms, as opposed to the creminis I used.

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Fettuccine with Sundried Tomatoes and Mushrooms
By Jared Paventi (inspired by Julia’s Album)

  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3.5 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups boiling vegetable stock or 2 cups boiling water with Knorr Homestyle stock or bouillon cubes dissolved
  • 1/4 cup cooking sherry
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 8 oz. fettuccine (I used fresh, but dry will do)

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Add olive oil to a Dutch oven or large pan over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook 3 minutes or until the mushrooms begin to soften. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and give a quick stir. Let cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms begin to sweat.

In the meantime, bring a large saucepan of water to boil.

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Bring a small saucepan with vegetable stock or water to boil. If necessary, add your bouillon or Knorr stock (This stuff is so much better than a bouillon cube!) and dissolve. Add the broth to the pan, ladle by ladle, until completely transferred. Add the sherry and simmer to let the liquid reduce, about 7 to 9 minutes.

Salt the boiling water and cook your pasta 1 to 2 minutes less than the recommendation on the package for al dente.

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Add the cream, bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Add the grated cheese and stir to combine thoroughly. Drain the pasta and transfer immediately to the sauce, stirring gently to coat with the cream sauce.

Serve immediately.

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