Pasta with Dried Mushrooms & Asparagus

Another make-it-up-on-the-spot dinner.  I have the ingredients…just can’t find a recipe that uses them all!

I have some fresh asparagus, dried mushrooms, a shallot and dried pappardelle.

I’ve made a portobello mushroom creamy pasta, so I’m using that recipe as a guide.

Soak the dried mushrooms and save that mushroom water.  Blanch the asparagus then cut stalks into smaller pieces. 

Saute the re-hydrated mushrooms in butter and oil.  After a bit, add the sliced shallot.  Saute a few more minutes and then add a cup of beef broth and the mushroom water, about a cup of that, so two cups of liquid total.  Then add a small amount of sherry, salt, pepper and thyme — building flavor.  Let this simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add the asparagus pieces and let them cook till tender — a couple of minutes more. 

I’m adding a little milk and 1/2 & 1/2 to give the sauce very little creaminess. 

Boil the pasta until it is not quite done.  Strain and add to the pan of mushroom sauce to cook it till it’s tender.

From pantry to table - just under a half an hour.  Thinking on my feet tonight!

Seconds tasted even better — the pasta absorbed more of the sauce, delicious.

Dinner: Wednesday April 4, 2012

Lately, I’ve been making the usuals for dinner, nothing to blog about.  Many times, I’ve already written about a particular recipe or meal.

Tonight is one of those meals: Pasta with Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, a recipe from the New York Times.  It can’t be any easier. 

At Trader Joe’s I got these heirloom cherry tomatoes.  And that’s why I posted tonight’s dinner.

Don’t they look wonderful?  


Pour on olive oil on the tomatoes,  season with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar. Cover with bread crumbs and grated Parmesan. Put into a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Ready for the pasta!

Dinners: March 5 & 9, 2012

I have some catching up to do!!

The daughter, CS, came home from college for her two-week spring break and she brought a friend.  So, I’ve been cooking lots.  And visiting grocery stores more often! 

Some dinners have been family favorites — Roasted Chicken and Chicken Pot Pie.  I didn’t take any photos.

I’ll catch up with two dinners – both recipes from Silver Palate.

Earlier this week I made chili.  This covered several requirements: meat and quantity.

The college students want meat, I want leftovers.

The chili recipe is called, Chili for a Crowd.  I don’t have a pot large enough to cook for a crowd, nor the refrigerator and freezer space for storage.  I cut the recipe approximately in half.

I also made a judicious deletion – no black olives! (The book is from the Eighties.)  I like this recipe because it uses ground beef and Italian sausage.  I know for some people this is chili heresy but I don’t care.  The chili police have not found me yet.

Cooking away in my large-enough pot.


I also made corn bread.  I don’t have a favorite so I went to Food52 and found a winner, Double-Corn Bread with Fresh Thyme.  But of course, I left out the thyme.  Didn’t have any and knew the daughter wouldn’t be a fan.  The bread was great, corny with enough flour that it didn’t crumble into hard-to-butter pieces. 

It makes a nice amount.  Probably would freeze well, but I had none left.


Last night, I made Italian sausage with onions and peppers to put over pasta.  I has uncooked sausage left from chili making.  Again, this recipe is from Silver Palate, though rather than cooking the sausage on the stove, I put it on the grill.

Cooking up the onions and peppers.


Then add the tomatoes, spices, cup of red wine and let it cook for about ½ hour.  Add the sliced sausage and some fennel seeds to simmer another 15-20 minutes. 




Enough left for MS to take for lunch next week.  

Have to plan more meat meals for next week.

Dinner: Monday January 30, 2012

I’m making one of the easiest pasta in my dinner repertoire: Roasted Cherry Tomatoes from the New York Times 2001.  But of course I’m making a substitution – grape tomatoes instead because that’s what was in the store.

This calls for a pound of tomatoes; I just use an amount that tightly fills the bottom of my baking dish.  Slice each tomato in half and place cut side up.  Top them with about 1/3 cup of olive oil, ¼ cup of grated Romano cheese (I use what I have – Parmesan), ¼ bread crumbs, salt and pepper.

Put into a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

Roasted and ready for the pasta.


Mix in the cooked pasta with a little more oil and some of the pasta water.



It really is this easy.  The  cheese melted into the breadcrumbs qualifies this as comfort food.

Dinner: Tuesday January 10, 2012

It’s been awhile.  MS’s need for a bland diet lasted longer he expected.  So, my dinners were just too bland to blog about.  This weekend the daughter returned to college. 

It’s been a long time since I made pasta in a red sauce.  MS can’t eat this yet. I have diet-appropriate leftovers for him.

For myself, I’m making the easiest sauce I’ve ever seen.  Marcella Hazan’s Red Sauce III from The Classic Italian Cook Book.  I use canned tomatoes. Put them into a pot with a peeled onion cut in half, some butter (for 2 pounds of tomatoes she calls for ¼ pound of butter – I use much less), salt and a tiny bit of sugar.  Simmer all this together for about 45 minutes.

This is a fabulous red sauce without lots of food prep.  The secret is the butter, I think.

Because I used whole canned tomatoes, I used a hand blender to break down the big pieces into a smoother sauce.

After 45 minutes it’s done.  Take out the onion. 

My dinner is served. 


The daughter was envious when I told her what I was making. So nice to be appreciated from afar.

Dinner: Sunday, October 23, 2011

We went to the green market Saturday morning. Yesterday, it was like buying a Christmas tree.  You’re outdoors, and what you pick up just doesn’t look that tall, large, big, monstrous. The sky is the actual limit.  So, you come home with a tree that more than scrapes your ceiling, or a bunch of rainbow Swiss chard that fills the refrigerator.

I was beguiled by this chard because it included red, yellow, orange and white stalks. Beautiful.


Emergency ingredient cooking ahead!  I found a recipe using Swiss chard in a ricotta filling for tortelloni in Marcella Hazan.

I’m not making the tortelloni  (look like ravioli to me).   I’ll mix this ricotta filling into bow tie pasta and call it dinner.

Cooking the chard leaves till tender.


Maybe there isn’t as much chard as I thought!  Hard to see through the steam.

Squeeze out the water and finely chop.


Sauté a couple of tablespoons of onion.  I’m omitting the prosciutto in Marcella’s recipe.  Add the chopped chard to the pan.  Add the sautéed onion and chard to the cup of ricotta, egg yolk and 2/3 cup of grated Parmesan.


The pasta is ready.  Topped with the chard mix.  

Better than I expected.  The taste of the chard is different than spinach would be.  We liked it.  I’m not sure the daughter would have even tried it. Maybe.