Pasta Perfection: Fettuccine with Shrooms

A great pasta dish is a gem to keep in your culinary pocket for future use.  This recipe has been a favorite of mine for a long time.  Only detriment is that I could never get the sauce thick enough. It was always on the edge of runny no matter how long I reduced it down.  I made it this week and one ingredient change made a huge difference. Instead of a can of whole tomatoes in thin juice that you break up before cooking, I used a can of crushed whole tomatoes with thick sauce. So, I started with a thicker tomato product and that really changed the sauce results. This is an easy dish to compile. I usually use baby bella mushrooms but pretty much any type will do. This time it was plain old white mushrooms sliced thickly.  Do not slice them thin; just not meaty tasting then. Sometimes I quarter the small bellas for this; but I do think thick sliced is my favorite cut.

The dish may seem simple in flavor but it is a delightful balance of all these fresh ingredients. The original recipe came from “Italy Al Dente” by Biba Caggiano with some small changes by me. This cookbook is hands down my favorite Italian cooking bible; so many great pasta recipes plus super soups and wonderful risottos.  Even has polenta recipes.  Highly recommend getting it if you cook Italian often.

Notes: use the best EVOL you have for this; it seems like a lot of oil but it combines with the tomatoes and cream to make a luxurious creamy sauce.

Fettuccine with Mushrooms in Creamy Sauce, 4 servings

Ingredients

3-4 Tbsp. EVOL

½ lb. fresh mushrooms like baby bellas, shiitake, white buttons, cleaned

Half a big red pepper cut in large dice

1/3 lb. pancetta or prosciutto (I have used either; this time pancetta from Aldi’s already diced)

1 garlic clove minced

4-5 shredded fresh sage leaves

1 28 oz can Italian tomatoes, crushed in thick sauce

¼ cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Fettuccine; most or all of a 12 oz box of dried gf pasta cooked until barely al dente. Cook while the sauce thickens; try to time it so it gets done when you have added the cream to the sauce.

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the mushrooms which you have thickly sliced.  Stir and cook about 3 minutes until they turn golden. Add the red pepper, pancetta, garlic and fresh sage (can use parsley but sage is so great in this sauce) and stir for a minute.  Add t he tomatoes and season with some salt/pepper. Once it reaches boiling, turn down and simmer about 10 minutes; it should thicken a bit. Stir a few times as it cooks. Add the cream, stir and simmer 2-5 more minutes. Do not boil. Turn off heat and add hot pasta, Stir a minute or two. Double check whether you need more salt/pepper and serve.

pasta plated with mushroom sauce

The original recipe didn’t have the red pepper but I think it is a great addition; leave it out if you don’t care for red pepper. Enjoy!

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Spaghetti Eggplant Turrets (Towers of Yumminess)

Spaghetti is an American classic.  I don’t make it enough, especially since going gluten free.  That may change since I started to read Mario Batali’s newest cookbook “America Farm to Table”.  I cooked up a storm this past weekend making his eggplant and angel hair turrets.  What’s a turret?  A tower of yumminess!farm to table cookbook

Having a surfeit of eggplants I was diving into all my eggplant recipes to determine the best way to utilize my crop of purple beauties. This one is a winner.

We devoured it by candlelight on my back porch the other Saturday night, bees wax candles to be exact.  I thought for a moment that my man was going to lick his dinner plate! It was rewarding to see him so enraptured by my cooking.

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I made a few changes so this is an adaptation of the recipe.  I advise reading it through twice so you don’t screw it up! I used less red pepper flakes than the original recipe; up it to a tsp. if you dare!  Yes, it uses instant potato flakes and they work fantastically to coat the eggplant.    I used my own tomato sauce I had made the night before from the last of my fresh tomatoes.  This recipe serves 4.

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Eggplant and Pasta Turrets

4 tbsp. EOL

2 large eggs

1 cup instant mashed potato flakes

1 large eggplant or 2 medium ones

½ cup onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

2 oil packed anchovy fillets plus 1 tbsp. of the packing oil

1 28 oz can of tomatoes, crushed by hand plus all the can juice or your own homemade tomato sauce, unseasoned

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

1  12 oz package gf spaghetti

½-2/3 cup shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese

Fresh basil leaves

Eggplant: Place the eggs in a wide shallow bowl, beat well.  Put the potato flakes into a second shallow bowl or a wax paper covered plate.  Slice the eggplant into 1/3 inch slices.  Dip into the eggs, let excess drip off and dredge in the potato flakes.

Heat a large Teflon pan, add 2 tbsp EVOL.  Let heat to medium hot, add the eggplant slices, cook 2-3 minutes a side.  Place cooked eggplants on a paper towel lined plate.  Do a second batch of slices.  I put my cooked slices on a small baking sheet and put them into a 350 oven which I then turned off.  They stayed hot and I felt a tad more sure that they were fully cooked.

Make the sauce: heat the remaining EVOL in a large pot, add the onion, sauté until slightly softened; 2 minutes, add the sliced garlic, red pepper flakes, mashed up anchovy fillets, oil of fillets and the tomatoes.  Cook, stirring often; 12-15 minutes.

Pasta: Cook the pasta in a big pot of boiling salted water. Drain it one minute before the package directions say it will be done. Save a cup of the pot water to thin the pasta.

Use the eggplant fry pan (wipe out the brown bits of crust) and ladle in 2-3 big scoops of the sauce and the pasta.  Cook one minute, turn off the stove and add the cheese, stir well.

Construction of the turrets:

Place a big spoonful of sauce on each plate.  Top with an eggplant slice (I used my biggest slices for the bottom layer) and then top with a big twirl of the pasta mixture.  Top with another eggplant slice and then another pasta twirl.  Do this again.  Top with a dab of the red sauce.  You can also top it with some hot pepper jelly which is a surprisingly good addition!  I did sprinkle our towers with a few torn basil leaves.

Dive in!  And check out this cookbook; chock a block full of great relatively healthy recipes. This was one of the more complex ones; most seem fairly straight forward and sound darn delicious.

Originally published in my blog October 2014.  I made this the other weekend and decided I just had to share it again.  Do use the red pepper jelly if you have any; it is amazing!