September 17, 2007

Mushroom Farfalline

A mid-September weekend trip to the farmer's market in Northern California is an overwhelming, glorious painting of bright colors, shapes, smells, and tastes (free samples!) that divides the world for me into crates upon crates of food I wish I could but most certainly will not have time to prepare before the harvest is over and the few things that I shall buy and try to use in meals.

Predictably, I bought over 3 pounds of tomatoes, despite a very functional tomato plant (Woo hoo! I didn't kill it! And it's a very flavorful plant, although it's not the black krim I thought I planted, but, after looking at other photos, I must admit, it likely is a black krim of sorts. Regardless, it produces delicious fruit, even if they are a bit prone to cracking.)

But, tonight, in the last un-healthy night of the week before a return to another stretch of recovery from Summer days, I opted for non-tomato comfort food. I left work at 5 PM tonight. Another deal closed before 6 PM. Anxiously, after the silly salad of lunch, I hungrily waited E's arrival home from work 'til 6:55, when I finally called, only to have him inform me that he was 5 minutes away. If only I could have exercised another 5 minutes of restraint... but alas. I could not. I suspect many pieces of history have been changed due to inability to wait for food. Another day...

Upon his arrival, after a brief discussion, we agreed to eat at home, and fast. So, I put the 2 handfuls of tree oyster mushrooms that I couldn't resist at the farmer's market and half a portion of ewephoria (I know, I know, the name simultaneously hurts and pleases me too...) in our kitchen to excellent use.

If, as a child you loved mac-and-cheese, and you are looking for a filling, not overly rich, but rich enough to feel devilish and indulgent pasta dish, I recommend this one.

-1/2 box barilla farfalline (any small but not super-small soup-shape pasta will do, something between macaroni and orzo would be my recommendation)
-1/2 a yellow onion, finely chopped
-2 T butter
-2 handfuls mushrooms, finely chopped (I suspect more would have been fine, this was pleasantly mushroomy, but had plenty of room for more mushroom flavor)
-1 box beef broth (obviously, veggie broth will work, but will probably be less satisfying)
-1/4 cup chopped cheese for melting (I used ewephoria, but I suspect any good melting cheese would do)
-dried aged cheese for grating (parmigiano reggiano was the choice, but any hard aged cheese that can be easily grated on a ribbon grater will be fine)
-black pepper, at the table
-truffle oil, if you have it, for topping

1. Heat casserole pan. Melt butter on medium heat 'til it starts to foam. Add onions and simmer for a minute or two.
2. Add mushrooms. Cook 'til butter is almost entirely absorbed.
3. Add box of broth, bring to a boil.
4. Add pasta. Boil and stir 'til the pasta is al dente and the broth is almost cooked down to a spoonable sauce (close to 10 minutes for the farfalline despite the box's 6 minute cooking time).
5. Turn off heat, continue to stir as the broth steams away.
6. Add chopped cheese, stir until melted throughout.
7. Spoon into two huge helpings and spoon the few remaining teaspoons of sauce over the top.
8. Top servings with ribbon-grated grated dry-aged cheese. Drizzle with truffle oil. Allow to cool in the serving dishes for 7-10 minutes while cheese melts and the remaining liquid is absorbed and condenses into a sauce.
8. Enjoy with black pepper to taste.

Basically, it's a gourmet mac-and-cheese with some mushrooms and onions to boot. Like I said, comfort food.

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