Pasta with Mushrooms

I know, I know.  I waxed poetic about my new year’s resolution, and then I left you hanging for like a week and a half. Well I’m just going to pass the blame along to my husband who, for the third time this year no less, has brought home a cold and insisted on sharing it with me.  So I have been moping around, using sick days, and cooking nothing more complicated than tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Now that I am on the mend (really I’m fine, I’m just trying to milk this pitiful invalid thing for all it’s worth) however, I’ve had to catch up with all of that stuff I’ve been avoiding – like two weeks worth of laundry, and cleaning my bathroom, and catching up all those Nanny reruns I’ve been recording off of Nick at Nite (does anyone but me still watch that?? I’ll be honest, I can’t stop.)  And I really did want to share something wonderful with – something so good you would need to rush into the kitchen and make it immediately – but after all of that exhausting housework, I really just wanted to sit down with something simple and easy.  I raided my fridge of all the odds and ends that have been piling up: half a red onion, mushrooms left over from last weekend’s dinner party appetizer, and the tail end of a block of Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar.  I sauteed the onion and the mushrooms in just a very little olive oil and tossed that with half a box of spaghetti, hastily cooked to al dente, and I had dinner.  I added a little butter and grated the cheddar onto the pasta and let it all sort of melt together and it was a perfect weeknight supper.  I was a little worried that the cheese would try to run the whole show with such a strong flavor, but once it melted in, it just sort of coated the noodles in a suggestion of cheesiness and I just barely knew it was there – in a good way.

It was actually really good.  It certainly wasn’t mind blowing cuisine, but it was tasty, satisfying, homey food, and what more can a girl who’s just gotten back into the kitchen after a week on her deathbed ask for? OK, maybe not my deathbed, but if I see another cough drop I’m going on strike.

Chorizo and Mushroom Fideua

Apparently, Fideuà is the Catalan name for a traditional baked pasta dish.  Not something I was planning to make, but I was looking for something to use up some chorizo I had and all I kept getting were breakfast recipes, until Epicurious hooked me up with this one.  After a lifetime of avoiding mushrooms like the plague, I’ve recently decided that they’re pretty awesome, so I pretty much had to make this.  It’s pretty straightforward to make, and the flavors are pretty straightforward as well. A little earthy, a little spicy, a little vegetable -y (yes, I’m aware that’s not acceptable grammar, but just go with it) and a lot delicious.  It’s one of those warm, homey dishes that are good pretty much any time of day.  I really liked that you finish it in the oven – the slight crunchiness it gives to the noodles is a little surprising and really gives it some texture.  You don’t want them to shatter or anything, but just bake it until most of the moisture is gone and they will have a pleasant bite to them while still tasting like pasta should taste.  And you know what I realized while I was making it?  That the reason I love to cook is because it is the coolest thing in the world to take that pile of raw ingredients up there and turn them into this really delicious plate of food.

 

Chorizo and Mushroom Fideua

Adapted from Epicurious

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 pound onions, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 5 ounces Spanish chorizo or other garlic sausage (such as kielbasa), cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  • 3/4 pound fideo or angel hair pasta
  • Minced fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat olive oil in heavy deep paella pan skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until tender, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté about 5 minutes. Add paprika and cayenne and stir just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and green pepper and sauté a couple of minutes (2-3). Add chicken broth, wine, and chorizo. Bring mixture to simmer. Break pasta in half and add to pan. Cook until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Set pan in oven and bake until all liquid is absorbed and pasta is crusty, about 25 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

 

A few notes:

Not all of us have a paella pan laying around. I mean, have you seen the size of my kitchen?  I used a large pot to do my sauteing and stovetop cooking, then I dumped it all in a large casserole to finish in the oven.  I know it’s not traditional, but it worked just fine.

3/4 lb onions is about 2 medium, or 1 1/2 large