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~Meatless & Marvelous Creamy Pasta & Mushrooms~

IMG_7743A bowl of exquisite creamy-dreamy pasta.  When the craving for it hits, it's one that can't be staved off.  In terms of work, while I consider this a rather uncomplicated dish to make, requiring just two or three relatively-easy steps, I relax and take my time to make it right.  As a mushroom lover, they're on-hand in my refrigerator 90%-95% of the time (which is why this is one of my favorite go-to pasta dishes) and they get seasoned and sautéed in a skillet first.  Next I take five-ten minutes to make a Parmesan-cream sauce using always-on-hand ingredients.  I cook my pasta last, and, give or take, in 35-45 minutes my restaurant-quality pasta dish is done.

This humble pasta dish is family-style comfort food:

IMG_7732This humble pasta dish is quintessential family-style comfort food, but it's also elegant, extraordinary and exquisite, so, do not hesitate to plate it on some fine china and serve it as a starter course with a champagne toast at your next fancy-schmancy dinner party.  It goes without saying, it's a perfect main-dish to serve to your vegetarian friends, but, when served as a side-dish to a perfectly pan-seared filet mignon, your carnivorous friends will thank-you too.  

Step One:  Seasoning & Sautéing the Mushrooms

IMG_764812  ounces 1/4"-sliced mushroom caps of choice, use your favorite (Note:  These are baby bellas and are my favorite.)

4  tablespoons salted butter

2  tablespoons olive oil

1/2  teaspoon garlic powder 

1/2  teaspoon onion powder

1/8  teaspoon ground nutmeg 

1  teaspoon sea salt 

1/2  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

IMG_7647 IMG_7647 IMG_7647 IMG_7647 IMG_7647 IMG_7660 IMG_7660 IMG_7660 IMG_7660 IMG_7660~Step 1.  In a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan over low heat, melt butter into olive oil.  Add and stir in the spices (garlic powder, onion powder, nutmeg, salt and pepper).  Increase  heat to medium- medium-high. When butter becomes foamy and begins to bubble, add the sliced mushrooms.  Stirring frequently with a spatula, cook until mushrooms have lost almost all of their moisture, about 4 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to a plate and set aside, leaving all of the wonderfully-flavored juices in the bottom of the skillet.

Step Two:  Making the Parmesan-Cream Sauce

IMG_7672buttery-drippings from sautéing mushrooms, about 2 tablespoons

2  tablespoons flour

1/4  teaspoon each:  garlic and onion powder, sea salt and coarse-grind black pepper

1/16 teaspoon nutmeg

2  cups heavy cream, plus, up to 1/2 cup additional cream, to control consistency

1 1/2  cups finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1-2  tablespoons dry sherry, to taste

IMG_7673 IMG_7673 IMG_7673 IMG_7673 IMG_7673 IMG_7673 IMG_7673 IMG_7673 IMG_7691 IMG_7691 IMG_7691 IMG_7691~Step 2.  Over low heat, stir all of the spices into the buttery-mushroom drippings, followed by the flour.  When the mixture becomes pasty and begins to get foamy, which takes less than a minute, add the 2 cups of cream.  Increase heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring constantly until cream sauce is steaming, but not simmering, and nicely thickened, about 3-4 minutes.  Lower the heat and add the grated Pamigiano-Reggiano.  Add sherry to taste.  Cover and set aside while cooking the pasta.  This sauce thickens slightly as it begins to cool, so, check it just prior to adding the cooked pasta and add additional cream, at your discretion, if you feel it necessary.

Step Three:  Cooking the pasta & tossing dinner together:

IMG_7710all the prepared sauce, still warm in the still-warm skillet

all the sautéed mushrooms

12-ounces pasta of choice, cooked and drained as package directs (Note:  Thick spaghetti is my favorite.)

1  tablespoon sea salt, for seasoning pasta water

additional Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish

IMG_7713 IMG_7713 IMG_7713 IMG_7722 IMG_7722 IMG_7722~Step 3.  In a 4-quart stockpot, cook and drain 12-ounces of pasta in boiling salted water, to al dente, according to package directions.  Add the steaming hot pasta to the still warm Parmesan cream sauce, followed by the sautéed mushrooms.  Toss, portion and serve ASAP, garnished with additional Parm-Regg cheese. 

Perfect for a cold, rainy night in front of a movie on the TV:

IMG_7758Meatless & Marvelous Creamy Pasta & Mushrooms:  Recipe yields 4 main-dish servings and 6-8 starter- or side-dish sized servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight-deep sides & lid; spatula; microplane grater; 4-quart stockpot; colander

6a0120a8551282970b022ad39da7f0200cCook's Note: Risotto is traditional Italian cooking at its best.  Risotto is more of a method than a recipe, and it requires respect.  There are no two ways to make risotto.  Make it right or it's not risotto.  Don't deviate from the method, don't take shortcuts and don't make substitutions.  Risotto cannot be rushed -- it requires patience.  It cannot be made in advance, it needs to be carefully watched, methodically stirred, and served immediately.  Risotto is done when it is done, and only the cook knows when it is done, but, when it is done right, it's a meal fit for a kind or a queen.  Try my recipe for ~ Perfectly-Prepared Chicken and Mushroom Risotto ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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