This recipe was one of the ones that just kind of falls together, although I'll admit that I had something along these lines in mind from the beginning. My menu for the week had "some kind of pasta with mushroom thing" on it for a late-in-the-week date. By the time I got to the grocery store, though, I knew that I did not want to wait until the end of the week. It was a chilly day, I was feeling cranky and crowded and I wanted the mushroom thing. Plus, my Tofu Plan had accidentally scheduled two tofu nights too close together, and no one wants that. I went ahead and made the dish. I'd had something a little different in mind - something a little "saucier," something a little more complex with more garlic and herbs. I'd needed to open a bottle of white for another dish I was working on (for another day - look how organized I am, planning ahead and all!) and when I tasted it I decided that I didn't want to add too much else.
This marks a developmental milestone for my daughter, or possibly for me. Fearless Baby has been wanting to help make dinner for some time and I've been very reluctant to let her get involved. There are a couple of reasons for that. One is that I really don't feel comfortable having a two year old around boiling water or operational stoves of any kind. I realize that I need to get over that and supervise very closely, because if she doesn't understand what's going on up there and that yes, the water is very hot she will never actually know to be safe around it. I can tell her "no, don't go near it" all I want but as soon as my back is turned or she's in someone else's house or whatever she will do whatever she wants to do and we will begin a very intimate relationship with the burn unit or worse. Working closely with me - supervised, never getting close enough to actually hurt herself - she understands that the stove is hot because she can feel it. So far - and granted the sample size is small - it's working. She's more apt to listen when I say, "Don't come over here, I've got boiling water on."
Anyway, Fearless Baby was actually pretty helpful with dinner last night. She helped put things into the pan, and she helped make choices about what to serve and what to include in the recipe. She's always been very interested in cooking and food - as soon as she could walk she made a beeline for any kitchen in the area, disconcerting several commercial kitchens before we caught on. I distrust some of her pairings. I asked her last night if we should have a salad with this. She said no, she thought we should have a pizza with this instead.
Pasta with Mushrooms and Cheese (serves 4; approx. $4.15/serving)
1 box whole wheat penne, prepared according to package instructions
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 ounces white button mushrooms, finely chopped
20 ounces baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped
4 ounces smoked mozzarella, cubed
1 cup ricotta
1 1/4 cup sauvignon blanc
a few chives, chopped
- Large, deep saute pan
- Start preparing the sauce as you start boiling the pasta water.
- Melt the butter in the olive oil over medium-low heat. Don't let the butter brown.
- Add the mushrooms and cook over low heat until half-tender.
- Add the wine. It's okay to increase the heat slightly if you need to at this point, but don't cook this dish too quickly.
- When the pasta is done, drain it and remove the mushrooms from heat. Immediately add the mozzarella and ricotta. Stir until the mozzarella is melted and the ricotta is incorporated into the sauce.
- Turn the pasta out into your serving bowl. Pour the mushroom sauce on top.
- Scatter a few chives on top and serve.