Amazing Two-Sauce Italian Butterfly Pasta

Welcome to National Pasta Day. Did you know that not only is October 17th a day revered by Pasta Lovers everywhere, but the entire month of October is dedicated to pasta? If you were to eat a different type of pasta for each day of the month, you still wouldn’t have eaten your way through all the pastas out there.

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Butterfly Pasta with Sauteed Mushrooms – A work in Progress

I’ve shared disasters with you. Things overcooked, things I’ve done wrong with a smile and “Oh so sorry, I messed up on this one”. I’ve never shared a recipe before that was executed perfectly and yet left something to be desired. For those less than perfect dishes, the attitude has always been “Let me work on it – perfect it – let me get it right and then share”. Here’s a thought – why do that? Oh sure, we want to share our taste tested, this is a winner recipes. But why not share one or two that are less than perfect? Why not let you see a glimpse of the evolution process? Who knows – maybe someone out there has the key to take an okay recipe and elevate it to the mountain tops! So here goes . . .

I don’t know about you, but I adore mushrooms. Mushrooms in a salad, mushrooms stuffed to the point of bursting, mushrooms in soups and sauces and grilled cheese sandwiches. One of my favorite sandwiches every has to be kiddo’s Over the Top Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Who can argue with a golden grilled sandwich packed full of tomatoes, cheeses and earthy mushrooms? Did you know that mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D? Let’s face it, most of us could use a little more Vitamin D in our diets. The greatest source of Vitamin D is sunshine, yet many of us spend our days locked away in a cubical world under artificial light day after day. If you can’t get outdoors, then eat more mushrooms.

It was this desire to embrace more mushrooms that brought about what should have been a knock ‘em dead pasta dish. It had all the right ingredients. There were lots of mushrooms all swimming about in a luscious cream sauce. This should have been awesome.

I wish I could sing the praises of this dish. There are no notes as to its origins. It was just one of those hand-written collections I’ve managed to pick up over the years. Reading through the recipe, it seemed just fine. Everything made sense and sounded delicious – on paper. While the early flavors of the mushrooms were perfect, the sauce itself lacked any true depth.

Here are my thoughts as to how to bring more to the plate. Add fresh baby spinach and ribbons of fresh basil for a little herbal sweetness. Throw the leaves in just at the end, with a quick twirl and let them wilt off-heat.

Color – the sauce is too one-dimensional in color. Perhaps a handful of roasted cherry tomatoes will bring a splash of color and a little hint of acidity. Yet we need more. Artichokes? Asparagus? I cannot put my finger of just what was missing. All I know is that something is missing in a big way.

In any case, it’s back to the drawing board with this one. If you’d like to join in and play around, that would be great! Here’s the recipe in its current state of evolution . . .

Butterfly Pasta with Sautéed Mushrooms
4 Tablespoons unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Red onion, chopped fine
1 lb Shiitake Mushrooms, stemmed and sliced ¼-inch thick
1 lb Cremini Mushrooms, trimmed and sliced ¼-inch thick
Salt & Pepper
5 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 ½ Teaspoons Fresh Thyme, minced
2 Cups Chicken broth
¾ Cup Heavy Cream
4 ½ Teaspoons Lemon Juice
1 ½ lbs Farfalle (Bow-tie) Pasta
1 ½ Cups Parmesan Cheese, grated
Parsley for garnish

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a full boil. Maintain boil until ready to use.

Chop onion, mushrooms and garlic. Set aside until ready to use.

Heat butter and oil in a skillet over medium heat until butter is melted. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in Shiitakes, Cremini and ½ teaspoon salt, cover and cook until mushrooms have released their liquid, about 8 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until mushrooms are dry and browned, about 8 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, add pasta to boiling water and cook stirring often, until al dente, about 10-12 minutes. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return to pot.

Stir in garlic and thyme. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl and cover to keep warm.

To the now-empty skillet, add broth and cream. Bring to a simmer, scraping up browned bits. Off heat, stir in lemon juice; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Return mushrooms to cream sauce. Add Parmesan and stir until Parmesan has incorporated to the mushroom-cream sauce.

Return pan to low heat. Add pasta, toss to coat and combine. Heat gently until everything is bubbly and warm. Garnish with parsley and serve.

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Butterfly Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

This is one of those recipes that has made several appearances on our meal planner, only to be pushed aside, opting instead for fast food, a night of left overs or cold sandwiches. For whatever the reason, the dish could not find its way from the planning stage to the execution process. Finally, I painted myself into a corner – two beautiful breasts wrapped in butcher paper sat it the refrigerator, along with fresh broccoli from the farmer’s market and a bright orange pepper. No excuses – no backing down.

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