Friday, 22 July 2011

Emergency Mushroom Pasta

Everything is relative. When I first started cycling to work about a year ago, I thought that sixteen miles was a long way to cycle. Now, it feels reasonable. A little wimp-ish even. It might be something to do with having friends who are seasoned road cyclists and will do a hundred miles in a weekend without batting an eyelid. I now cycle between 30 and 50 miles a week and am hoping to up it as the weather improves (it’s going improve, right? Right??). Anyway, on a similar vein, time is also relative. Half an hour might not be very long to wait for a meal in the grand scheme of things but when you’ve just finished a sixteen mile ride in the rain, it seems like an eternity. My tummy isn’t very big either but it can feel like an echo-y cavern when it’s not been filled with tasty things.

This particular trick of time and space was my quandry just the other day. And once again the cupboard was bare. Our fridge sported a pack of mushrooms, a little butter, some milk and a wizened nugget of parmesan. Oh great. My hunger was starting to peak after my ride and my stomach was making it clear that it was very unhappy indeed. Thankfully, my windowsill herbs have been flourishing so I had fresh parsley and basil at my disposal.

Cue, the crisis food. This dish would probably be lovely with cream cheese, crème fraiche or even cream if you have it knocking around but we didn’t. A roux (butter and flour) thickens the milky mushroom-y mixture so that’s its deliciously warm and satisfying. Just what I needed.

Emergency Mushroom Pasta
Feeds two hungry people

1 onion, sliced
150g mushrooms, sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
150g pasta or spaghetti
100ml semi-skimmed milk (or whatever you have)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
50g parmesan cheese, finely grated
Small handful of parsley or basil, chopped
Sunflower or Olive oil

- Sweat the onions and garlic in a large saucepan over a low heat in a little oil for around five minutes or until they are completely softened and sweet.
- Add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes until tender.
- Put your pasta on to boil.
- Pour in the milk and stir until it is just off simmering.
- In a bowl, cream the butter and flour together into a paste.
- Take a ladle or two of milk from the mushrooms and whisk into the flour/butter paste until smooth. Add this into the saucepan and gently heat through, stirring as you do so, until the sauce starts to thicken.
- Add the grated parmesan and continue to stir until its mostly dissolved
- Once your pasta is cooked to your liking, drain it, reserving the cooking water, and add to the saucepan of sauce.
- Loosen the mixture with a little cooking water until it’s to your preferred consistency – I was in the mood for a light sauce so I made it relatively thin.
- Throw in the herbs, stir through and serve immediately with extra parmesan shavings and a whole lot of gratitude.

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