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Farmers’ market mushrooms a la Bella!

May 3, 2010

Wow, what a weekend. I had a gig in Florida on Saturday (tell you about that one tomorrow), my daughter Isabella had a school fair, my son Sebastian had four soccer games an hour away from home and my wife and I managed to squeeze in our Saturday night date alone. Good stuff! As Sunday night approached we were ready for a simple, clean dinner and to be together. I am convinced that sitting at the table together is one of they keys to a great family. Even if it is just a quick, simple dinner it makes a difference. We laugh, we talk about the great shots at the soccer game, and we just feel close. I love it. Oh yeah, the food! Isabella and Nadia picked up some beautiful baby shitake mushrooms and asparagus at the farmers market. Bella wanted pasta with those. I love this dish because it is simple. Only four ingredients yet delicious and fast. Although this dish is easy it is important to follow a few simple guidelines to make sure it turns out tasty.

First I got a large pot of water boiling. You want the pasta to have plenty of room to toss and turn freely. Once the water comes to a boil add plenty of salt. You should be able to taste the salt in the water. This way you know the pasta will be able to absorb the salt and bring out the best of the pastas flavor. By adding the salt once the water is boiling it will disperse evenly and not sink to the bottom. While the pasta is boiling you can make the sauce. I added a few TB of good xv olive oil to a wide sauté pan. Once hot (always important to get the oil hot first) I added the mushrooms, asparagus, a few chile flakes, and a touch of salt and pepper. I gave them a good toss so that they were evenly coated. I then turned the heat to med and let them roast in the pan. The juices of the mushroom came out and acted as a basting liquid to cook the asparagus and keep them tender. White the asparagus took in the liquid of the mushrooms the mushrooms got a nice golden sear on the outside. Once the mushrooms were golden and the asparagus was “al dente” (perfectly cooked asparagus is tender but still has body. If you were to leave it whole you should be able to set a spear across your finger and it should only droop down a couple inches on each side. It should not fold all the way down) I added some chopped garlic and tossed it to coat. As soon as the garlic softened and I could smell the perfume I hit the pan with a couple ounces of water (chicken stock or white wine is great as well). I watched as the water instantly became a rich sauce as it mopped the golden coating off the sides and bottom of the pan. Make sure you monitor your heat level so that you can achieve golden veggies that still have body yet without burning the pan. I pulled the pasta (al dente of course) straight out of the water and into the pan. I tossed the pasta to coat well. I grabbed a couple ounces of pasta water out of the pot and added that as well. The starch rich pasta water is a sauce in itself. It adds viscosity, flavor and richness to the dish without needing another sauce. I turned the heat off and then tossed in the grated Parmesan. By tossing the cheese in OFF the heat the cheese blends with the pasta water and olive oil to create a light yet incredibly flavorful sauce that coats the veggies and pasta with a perfect veil of flavor. If you add cheese when the heat is on you can get clumps of cheese. The familia was happy! The tender texture and full herb flavor of the asparagus is a perfect match with the earthy, creamy shitake mushrooms. The sauces was a natural marriage of the liquid of the pasta and each ingredient. The chile added the mildest touch of heat that acted as a palate opener and there was just enough cheese to convert the olive oil and pasta water to silk. Enjoy!

Eat well, Enjoy life, Be happy

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 8, 2010 4:37 pm

    Making this for my boyfriend tonight!

    • Jeffrey Saad permalink
      May 9, 2010 8:50 am

      Hello Em, How did it turn out? thanks for reading and have a great Sunday!

      • May 10, 2010 9:54 pm

        Per Evan “it was delicious!”

        The cheese clumped a bit…but hey, a little clump of cheese never hurt anyone!

        I used a little white wine instead of water to deglaze.

      • Jeffrey Saad permalink
        May 11, 2010 10:24 pm

        well done Em! glad Evan enjoyed it. Take care and thanks for reading! best, Jeffrey 🙂

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