Creamy Mushroom Pasta
Fresh mushrooms take a bit of planning
for busy cooks because we often find that the lovely white button
mushrooms we bought on Saturday morning have turned into unappetizing
brown chewy things with dark gills by Friday night. Dried mushrooms,
however, are always ready and waiting for us to get around to them (my
favorite dried mushrooms are shiitakes).
Fresh mushrooms have a delightful scent and mild flavor; dried ones
have depth and earthiness, and a perfume that permeates an entire dish
and lingers deliciously on the palate. In this lighter version of a
creamy Pasta Alfredo, the woodsy flavor of shiitakes turns a rich side
dish into a satisfying entree. Serve with a tartly dressed salad to
lighten the meal.
2 ounces dried mushrooms, such as
1 pound long, thin pasta, such as
fettucinne or spaghetti
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup light cream
Salt and pepper
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a bowl
or Pyrex mecsuring cup in the microwave, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms
and let steep on the counter for 20 minutes.
At the same time, bring a large quantity
of salted water fa-the pasta to boil on top of the stove. When the
Dice the onion and mince the garlic. In a
large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and
garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until they're slightly softened.
After the dried mushrooms have steeped,
pour the mixture through a strainer lined with a paper towel, reserving
the strained liquid into a small bowl or pyrex measuring cup. Pick off
and discard the stems, which are woody, and chop the mushrooms.
Add the mushrooms and the strained
soaking liquid to the skillet, and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer
for 5 minutes until the sauce is slightly reduced.
Pour in the cream and heat through.
Season with salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta and place it in a large
bowl. Pour the sauce over it, add a generous quantity of Parmesan, and
toss well to combine. Serve immediately.