Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pasta sauce with slow roasted mushrooms (and other yummy things)

This is a pasta sauce that I like to make from time to time. It's basic, rustic and good for you. The giant field mushrooms have a really meaty texture, and the mushroom flavour becomes potent through the roasting. It takes a little while, but is ridiculously simple, and can be varied according to your preference and whatever you have to hand. Sometimes I also slow roast some tomotoes brushed with balsamic, then add some pecorino or fetta, other times I've just sliced and tossed the mushrooms through some pesto.

It always goes well with a chunkier pasta, like parpadelle, farfalle, orichiette or similar.

This time I mixed the mushrooms through with some sauteed kale and toasted walnuts and had it on gnocchi. This was an excellent combo. In a perfect world I would have made the gnocchi from scratch with a mix of both standard and sweet potatoes, but this time I used fresh potato gnocchi. Here's the recipe:

3 large field mushrooms
1 bunch of kale or Tuscan cabbage
lotsa garlic
a big knob of butter
olive oil
salt and pepper and parmasan to taste

Brush the mushrooms lightly with olive oil on both sides. Place them on their caps and throw a shake of salt and ground pepper over them. Put them in a slow oven (about 140 Celcius).

After about 30 minutes, start the rest of the preparations. First chop the walnuts into big ol' chunks and scatter them around the mushrooms, then return to the oven. Boil some water for the gnocchi, then melt the large knob of butter in a deep, non-stick frying pan.  While this is melting add the gnocchi to the water. Throw the roughly chopped garlic into the buttery pan and after about half a minute, the equally roughly chopped kale and toss through the butter.   At about this time the gnocchi will be done. It takes about 2 minutes, but will float to the top of the water when it's done. Drain the gnocchi on a plate. You can add a splash of the pasta water to the kale to help it wilt, and if you have a bottle handy, add a splash of wine (white or red, either is good but I prefer red) to it as well.

Remove the kale from the pan and rest in a dish. Take the mushrooms from the oven and slice in half, then across in approximately 0.5 centimeter slices. Mix the mushrooms and garlic through the kale.

In the same frying pan you cooked the kale, add a generous splash of olive oil and then scatter the gnocchi into the pan. Toss at 1 minute intervals, until each gnoccho is golden brown on at least one side.  Throw the mushrooms and kale mix over the top, add a small amount of salt and plenty of cracked pepper and grate parmasan over the lot.

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