Portobello Mushrooms with Pasta

My version of a recipe from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. This is a great main course after Challison Salad, is incredibly easy and looks beautiful.

  • 8 oz pasta of your choice (I went with farfalle, because it’s sassy)
  • 1lb portobello mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or more, depending on how much onion/mushroom you use)
  • 1 small to medium onion, finely diced (I like onion. Use a big ol’ onion.)
  • Salt and freshly milled pepper to taste
  • 2 (or more) cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed (Come on. Use more.)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Alamos Chardonnay)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tsp minced rosemary
  • 2 tbsp toasted bread crumbs
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

Remove the stems and gills from the portobellos and slice the caps into 1/2-inch strips. Cut the larger pieces in half.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the onion, and cook over medium heat until lightly colored. Raise the heat, add the mushrooms, and saute until they begin to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add half the garlic. Mix the tomato paste and win and add it to the mushrooms. Lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes more.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water, then drain and add it to the mushrooms along with the cream, herbs, and remaining garlic. Toss, correct the seasonings, and divide among warm serving plates. Scatter the bread crumbs and a very light dusting of freshly grated cheese over each serving.

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Chickpea extravaganza

As promised, here are my two customized recipes of the previous weekend.

Pasta with garlic and oil (pasta aglio e olio)

Note: Another Bittman recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, I simply added to it. The cooking directions are again straight from Bittman’s cookbook. Super easy, fast, and it turned out to be a party fav.

  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp (at the very least, in my opinion) minced garlic
  • 1 or 2 dried chiles, or to taste (I used 2 ancho chiles, and it was nowhere near what I wanted–I don’t know that you could even detect the flavor at all. If you want spicy, get hot ones; if you want flavorful, perhaps try more ancho chiles and cook them in the oil before adding the garlic and everything else)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed (use a teeny bit more; also, since you’re dressing the pasta with just this, get an enjoyable, flavorful olive oil, not any cheap old thing off the shelf)
  • 1 pound penne pasta (which I chose since I was adding chickpeas)
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • At least 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • Grated Parmesan to taste (NOT SHAKEABLE KRAFT, FOR GOD’S SAKE)
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put the garlic, chiles, oil, peppers, chickpeas, and a pinch of salt in a small skillet our saucepan and turn the heat to medium-low. Let the garlic sizzle a big, shaking the pan occasionally, just until it puffs and turns golden, then turn off the heat if the pasta isn’t ready. (I started cooking the pasta first so that it would be done before the oil and garlic mixture and have some time to drain and cool a little before I dressed it with the oil).
  2. Cook the pasta until tender but not mushy. Drain it, reserving a bit of the cooking water. Reheat the garlic and oil mixture briefly if necessary. Dress the pasta with the sauce, adding a little more oil or some of the cooking water if it deems dry; toss with the parsley and parmesan.

Chana masala burgers

Note: Chana masala is one of my favorite Indian dishes, and I love the promise of fusion food. I was already planning on making this bean burger recipe with chickpeas, so I thought, why not tweak it to compliment my love of Indian flavors? This is the simplest, cheater’s way to do it (after all, I should use a good chana masala recipe and make my own spice blend), but they tasted great and they are incredibly fast to prepare (I had less than an hour before I needed to leave to go to the party I was serving them at). Also a party fav. Please also note that this recipe is a variation on Mark Bittman’s recipe “The Simplest Bean Burgers” in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and uses Bittman’s cooking directions almost verbatim. This yielded me six nicely-sized patties, but could easily have made seven or eight bitty burgers or “sliders,” as they’re sometimes called.

  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained (I tend to prefer Eden; their cans are not lined with BPA)
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1/2 rolled oats, not instant oats
  • At least 1 tbsp of chana masala seasoning blend, or more to taste (Frankly, I added only 1 tbsp because I didn’t want to overwhelm anyone, and in my opinion, it could have for sure used a little more)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup tofu (I substituted this in for the egg that the recipe called for)
  • Liquid if necessary (to keep the mixture from being dry. You probably won’t need it, but I did use just a tiny bit of milk)
  • Oil for cooking (I used grapeseed, since it’s flavorless)
  1. Combine the beans, onion, oats, chana masala seasoning, salt, pepper, and tofu in a food processor and pulse until chunky but not pureed, adding a little liquid if necessary (this is unlikely but not impossible) to produce a moist but not wet mixture. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes if time allows.
  2. With wet hands, shape into whatever size patties you want and again let rest for a few minutes if time allows. (You can make the burger mixture or even shape the burgers up to a day or so in advance. Just cover tightly and refrigerate, then bring everything back to room temperature before cooking.) Film the bottom of a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet with oil and turn the heat to medium. A minute later, add the patties. Cook until nicely browned on one side, about 5 minutes; turn carefully and cook on the other side until firm and browned (I should have cooked them a few minutes longer on both sides, in my opinion–they tasted great but were very soft and I had a hard time keeping them intact as I took them out of the pan).
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