Saffron Cream Pasta with Cauliflower, Tomatoes & Chili Flakes

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I am reposting this recipe from August 2013 because I have a new Video Vegan episode to go with it.  Here it is:

That photo is un-retouched & shot in natural light.  So – yes!  That pasta really IS that color!  Pretty to look at but with the delicate flavors of saffron and cauliflower – this is a delightful pasta dish.

I found this great saffron liquid at Super King for $7.

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That is a way cheaper option than saffron threads but saffron threads will be easier to find, I suspect.  I actually made this twice because the first time I made it – I made it with whole wheat fusilli & I didn’t like the photos.  This dish above was made with regular linguini.   The first time I made it, I used white wine & ghee (clarified butter).  The second time, I used regular butter & skipped the wine.  I think they tasted pretty much the same so I am going to post the one I made this morning.  There is only a tiny bit of the heavy cream per serving so do not be alarmed.  It isn’t as rich as you might fear.

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Saffron Cream Pasta with Cauliflower, Tomatoes & Chili Flakes

INGREDIENTS (for two very healthy servings)

1/2 lb dry pasta or your choice

1 small head cauliflower cut into bite-sized florets

2 large shallots – minced

2 tomatoes – diced

2 TBS ghee or butter (or vegan alternative)

1/2 cup heavy cream (or vegan alternative – almond milk should work fine)

1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)

1-2 TBS olive oil

1 generous pinch (1/2 a tsp or more) saffron threads steeped in 1/4 cup hot (not boiling) water OR 1 TBS (or more) saffron liquid from a bottle

Crushed red pepper to taste

Salt to taste

White pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Steam the cauliflower for about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

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Heat the olive oil over medium heat & saute the shallots until just soft but not browned.  If using wine – add it now & cook it off for about a minute.  Or just skip ahead.

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Add the ghee or butter and the heavy cream & the saffron.  Simmer over medium heat until it reduces by about half.  Add the tomatoes & the steamed cauliflower.

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Add salt & white pepper to taste.

Cook the pasta according to instructions, drain & add directly to the pan with the saffron sauce.  Combine thoroughly.  Serve with lots of crushed red pepper.

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Vegan Creamy Roasted Red Pepper & Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut-Ginger Cream, Pistachios & Pomegranate Seeds

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This might – honestly – be the most delicious soup I have ever made and it is as easy as can be.  If you have a blender, food processor or immersion blender – you can wow the fuck out of your friends with this glorious, autumnal, light & healthy, rich & creamy soup!  I used all the random veggies that I had wilting in my vegetable bins.  You can add or subtract ingredients but I gotta say – this baby is kinda perfect!  Very little added oil & chock full of veggie nutrients.  The Coconut- ginger cream is certainly optional but it adds a nice level.  The pistachios & pomegranate were for texture & color – but they can go with little impact on this soup.  If you are not vegan – stirring in a little goat cheese might be a nice touch.

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Vegan Creamy Roasted Red Pepper & Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut-Ginger Cream, Pistachios & Pomegranate Seeds

Serves 4 very well

INGREDIENTS

3 medium sweet potatoes – sliced into 1/2-inch rounds

3 bell peppers – halved & seeded

1/2 onion (or a leek or some shallots) – peeled & cut in half

10 small carrots – ends trimmed

1 jalapeno (optional)

1 TBS fresh lemon juice (optional)

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp red (or other) curry powder (or curry paste)

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne

Several fresh thyme sprigs (or 1/2 tsp dry thyme)

4 cups vegetable stock

olive oil (or coconut or other oil)

S&P

Garnish – pistachios and pomegranate seeds (optional)

for the coconut-ginger cream

5.5 ounces coconut milk

1-3 TBS minced ginger (I used a squeezable kind) – or to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Toss the vegetables in a bit of olive oil & spread in a single layer on cooking sheets (covered with either foil sprayed with cooking spray or parchment paper).  Salt & pepper liberally.  Cook for about 30+ minutes or until the veggies are soft.  Some might need to come out earlier than others.  I cooked an extra sweet potato to put in my dogs’ food tonight.  They LOVE sweet potatoes.  The bell peppers should blacken a little bit.  When the peppers are done – either put them in a tightly-closed container or wrap them in foil to cool a bit.  This will make them sweat & the skins should peel off nicely under running water.  Do not worry if all the skin does not come off.

Meanwhile – combine the coconut milk & ginger – adding ginger in increments – until it tastes good to you.  Set aside.

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Once you can handle the veggies (not the sweet potatoes) – chop them a little bit.  Seed the jalapeno to make it less spicy.  I used the seeds.

Heat a little olive oil in a large stock pot & add the chopped veggies & sweet potato and garlic.  Stir to combine & then add stock & spices.  Squeeze in about a TBS lemon juice.  Bring to a boil & turn off heat.

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Puree the soup in batches or with an immersion blender.  I added about 1-2 cups of water to thin it enough to puree in the blender.  Season with S&P.

Serve garnished with coconut-ginger cream, pistachios & pomegranate seeds.

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Vegan Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches with Cucumber, Fennel & Arugula

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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These are not technically a purists version of a tea sandwich – as most tea sandwiches use white bread & have the crusts cut off.  And – you can opt to do that with these but I thought some healthier bread would be nice & I like the crust of the bread.

I used Ezekial 4:9 Low Sodium bread but you can use whatever you like.  I also used Tofutti brand vegan cream cheese.  You can use your own favorite brand.  And – I used thinly sliced cucumber & fennel & a few arugula leaves – and this was quite a yummy lunch.

This isn’t really a recipe – as you can pile as little or as much of each ingredient onto your bread as you desire.  I’m just making suggestion about the flavor combo.   This sort of light sandwich is traditionally served with tea in the afternoon – to stave off appetites until dinner.

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Vegan Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches with Cucumber, Fennel & Arugula

INGREDIENTS

Bread of your choice – crusts cut off or left on

Vegan cream cheese

Fresh fennel – sliced very thin

Cucumber – sliced thin

Arugula

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Spread some cream cheese on both pieces of bread and add S&P.  Top with the veggies & assemble the sandwich.  Cut crusts away if you prefer.  Slice up the sandwich.  Eat – especially with some nice hot tea.

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CHEF’D – White Pizza with Broccoli & Mushrooms

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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There has been a huge rise in food services that send either already-prepared meals to your home for you to heat up and, more interestingly, ones that send pre-measured fresh ingredients & recipes & you make the food at home.  I tried Blue Apron – which is the latter service – and was not totally impressed.  One issue was the lack of selection for vegetarians (and nothing for vegans) & the fact that there was no option for a single person.  Their subscription plan meant I would get 3 meals – for two – each week – which meant six of my seven dinners were decided for me each week – with me eating the same thing twice – three times in a row.  Also – if you happened to LOVE a dish – you could not order it again soon – but had to wait – indefinitely – hoping it would eventually reappear in the cycle.  And – while the meals were tasty, they were pretty labor-intensive – some taking an hour to prepare.

Chef’d has solved those problems.  No subscription – meaning order what you want & when you want it.  Get the same thing every day for two weeks – or just get one thing – different things – a few times a month.  Additionally, so far, I have found their recipes fresh & interesting but fast & easy to prepare.  Great for date night!  Here is how they work:

Choose from Famous Recipes

Browse through hundreds of recipes from your favorite chefs, and cook them in the comfort of your own home!

From Our Kitchen to Yours

Fresh pre-portioned Ingredients delivered to your door. Reorder what you like, when you like. No subscriptions!

Cook, Love, Live

Enrich your life by creating memorable delicious experiences of love through our hand-cultivated recipes.

And look at the various tastes & lifestyles they accommodate

Shop Meals

LIFESTYLES:

FAMILY FRIENDLY
GOURMET
VEGETARIAN
GLUTEN FREE

PROTEINS:

BEEF
CHICKEN
SEAFOOD
LAMB
PORK
TURKEY
VEGAN
HERE is the list of the famous chefs contributing recipes.  And HERE are the vegan & vegetarian meals currently offered (kind of amazing looking).  I was given the opportunity to try the service & jumped at the chance.  I am a long-time fan of Beyond Meat & the pairing of these two companies is exciting to me.  I got the Beast Burger & Tacos & posted about the burger HERE – and the tacos in another post HERE.  I also posted about the Fig Pizza with Arugula & Goat Cheese HERE and the Tofu Parmigiana HERE.  They can be seen below, respectively.
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OK – so this is my third post about my box of three meals that I ordered from Chef’d in my second delivery from them.  It is their White Pizza with Broccoli & Mushrooms and Arugula Salad with Lemon Mint Vinaigrette.  Arugula salad is my favorite thing ever & I am also a huge fan of lemon & mint – but – I had this box delivered Saturday & did not get to this recipe until Thursday.  As a result – through no fault of Chef’d – my arugula had passed its edible period.
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I considered using the wilted arugula on the pizza but it was too far gone.   Sad.  I love arugula!  But – I just didn’t get to it on time.  MY fault!
But everything else was still fresh.  The recipe called for (and provided) real milk.  While I am still not totally off cheese or butter (vegan butter is so far ahead of vegan cheese – so far) – I am trying really hard to be entirely off eggs & milk – so I just substituted almond milk & vegan butter.  Made no difference – as in – was just as good.  I did use the real cheese, though.
My experiences with the Fig & Goat Cheese Pizza & the Tofu Parmigiana were that I found that they probably were not enough to realistically feed two American adults – for dinner.  That was not the case with this pizza.  I had accidentally used one of the pizza dough balls provided by Chef’d for my two pizzas on a separate pizza altogether – so I used my own (peppered) homemade crust when I made this.  Also – I only made  half pizza (using half the ingredients) and I was STUFFED!  So – I think this pizza actually might satisfy two adults.  Here is the nutritional info:
white pizza
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At 2480 calories (including, I assume, the salad that I did not even make) – this is a hearty meal!  And it was DELICIOUS!  Again – I found the Chef’d recipe to be less labor intensive than other companies that I have tried – less labor intensive BY A LOT – and the result more satisfying.  I only ate half of the half recipe I made.  Rich & filling & yummy! And easy.  The white sauce came together quickly.
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Mushrooms & broccoli cooked up fast & easy & the pizza assembled without incident.  I did add crushed red pepper but I add that to almost all things not served in a glass.  That peppery crust you see is my own homemade crust.  But – the result was a pizza with lots of flavors & textures.  While I have found all of the dishes I have tried from Chef’d to be easy to make & really tasty to eat – this one is the current champion of full-blown decadence.  So – if one night – you eat this entire decadent meal – maybe the next night – you compensate with the far lighter tofu parmigiana?
Whether eating light is your concern or getting a rich & wintery meal into your pie hole is your goal – I think Chef’d has you covered.  And I don’t eat meat – so I can’t even get into sampling what those dishes offer.  But I recommend these Chef’d meals with complete enthusiasm.  Even for the most novice chef – and especially for novice vegetarians.  Lots of folks who want to cut more meat out of their diet fear only salads in their futures & Chef’d can quickly dispel those fears – and leave almost everybody feeling more empowered in the most important room in their homes – the kitchen!
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Vegan Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta with Fried Sage

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This is another super easy & healthy one!  I used sweet potatoes but any orange squash would also work.  No dairy in this at all & it still tastes so decadent!  If you own a blender – you can make this in 30 minutes.   The sauce can be used as it is here – over pasta – but if you added a bit more stock or some milk or heavy cream – you would have a delightful soup!  Or – leave it thick & make ravioli.  Or slather some in a white lasagna.  Mmmmm!

I used these fresh (non-vegan) egg noodles I got from an Asian market but any pasta at all works in this.

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Vegan Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta with Fried Sage

Serves 4 well

INGREDIENTS

1 lb pasta (if you use less pasta – see notes above about how to re-purpose the extra sauce)

2 TBS olive oil

1 package or bunch of fresh sage

1 large sweet potato (2 lbs or so – or 3 cups) – peeled & cubed

1 medium onion – diced

4 garlic cloves – minced

1 TBS (or less – if heat bothers you) crushed red pepper

2 cups vegetable stock

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Cook & drain your pasta – but reserve about a cup of the hot pasta water.  Toss the pasta with a drizzle of olive oil to keep it from sticking.  Set aside.

Over medium heat – warm the oil in a large saute pan & fry the sage.   Be careful not to burn it (it should not brown in the pan).  After 2 minutes or so – drain it on papers towels & set aside.

In the same pan, add the onions.  Once softened, add the sweet potato, garlic & crushed red pepper.  Stir for one minute & then add the stock.  Bring to a boil & boil until your sweet potato is soft.

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Being careful not to burn yourself, puree the sweet potato mixture.  Season liberally with S&P (to taste).   Put the noodles in the pan you cooked the sweet potatoes in.  Spoon only as much of the sweet potato puree onto it so you get a light cover.  You don’t want to drown the pasta.  I had a lot of puree left over from the 1/2 pound of pasta I cooked & I will make it into soup (see notes above the recipe).  If it gets too thick, stir in some of the reserved pasta water – a bit at a time.

Plate the pasta & crumble sage on it.  Garnish with fresh cracked pepper & maybe some grated Parmesan (or vegan alternative).

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Orecchiette Pasta with Creamy Blue Cheese, Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Arugula (Vegan or Not)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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A disclaimer at the top: sometimes my photographs are underwhelming – even to me.  And – in this case – the photos do not do justice to the wonderful flavors of this dish.  I shoot with my i-phone only & usually use only ambient or natural light.  When you add the additional hurdle of a full-time job – that means I am making these pasta dishes as soon as I get up & shooting them in the morning sun – before work.  In the winter, the sunlight changes pretty quickly & dramatically in the mornings & evenings.  So – one day, I might shoot a dish at 9am in great light (like yesterday) but the next day I get the dish done earlier & am shooting at 8am – as was the case today.  The 8am light isn’t pretty.  It is blue & blue is an ugly tone to add to food – especially foods in the white/cream color zone because the blue is so much more evident.  Then – trying to correct the blue – shit gets all yellow.

So – I carted this bowl of pasta all over my house trying to find nice light.  I never really succeeded – but I did get a shot of the ever-optimistic Memphis – who follows me faithfully, hoping against hope that I will drop the food (which has happened) or just decide to give it to him (which has not happened).  Look at him in the upper right of frame:

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He is so fucking cute!  And I love him too much.

Anyway – I digress.  My point was, these are not my best photos but the dish is EASY & delicious & lighter than you might guess from the photos.   Eh – fuck it.  TRUST ME – this dish is really tasty!

On another note, I get sorta frustrated always pointing out ways in which my recipes can be tweaked to be vegan or vegetarian or meat-filled.   I kinda expect a committed vegan to know how to sub out dairy & I expect meat-eaters to know they could use real meat (in my vegan meat recipes) or add it if they want it – even if I never mention it.  I am never deterred by a meat item in a recipe title because I know at least half a dozen things I can replace it with (from vegan meat to chickpeas to cauliflower etc etc).

So – that in mind, cooked chicken could be added to this.  Vegan alternatives exist for blue cheese as they do for milk & butter.   Or use real milk & butter.  But if you use real milk or butter – try to get the highest end organic stuff you can find.  I used these things in this recipe (including the gourmet salts my friend Alyse brought me back from Hawaii):

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But there is this vegan butter out there available at most large supermarkets.

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Whatever you decide – this comes together in the time it takes to cook your pasta.  You can up the dairy (or faux dairy) ingredients if you want a more Alfredo-style pasta.  I don’t like heavy sauces – so I went pretty light with this one.

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Orecchiette Pasta with Creamy Blue Cheese, Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Arugula (Vegan or Not)

Feeds 2 well

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb pasta of your choice

1 TBS butter (or vegan alternative)

1/2 cup milk (or vegan alternative)

1/2 cup blue cheese (or vegan alternative)

1+ cup fresh arugula  (use more of the veggies to get an even lighter dish)

10-15+ small Brussels sprouts – trimmed & grated, shredded or chopped very fine (I grated mine in a food processor)

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Cook & drain the pasta.

Shred the Brussels sprouts

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over med-high heat & saute the Brussels sprouts for maybe a minute – longer if you cut yours into larger pieces but these guys should soften very quickly.  After a minute or two, add the milk & blue cheese.   Let it come to a boil & then lower to simmer & stir to melt the cheese.  Season with S&P.  Add the pasta & the arugula & heat through – letting the arugula wilt.

Serve that shit up & garnish liberally with freshly ground pepper.

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Fried Sage and Mushroom Cream Pasta Sauce with Orecchiette

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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First of all – I want to point out some new eggs I found.  I am not vegan – though I wish I were & will likely be one day – but until then, I feel real guilt whenever I buy cheese and especially when I buy eggs.  Free-range is a bullshit fraud.   Watch THIS video (sad but not graphic) of a bunch of free-range hens being released to a sanctuary & tell me that you think they led happy lives.   They clearly did not.

So, I have been buying pastured eggs & paying about a dollar each for them.  That is OK – because I don’t eat a lot of eggs & I am happy to have my money support genuinely humane farming practices.  So – imagine my delight when I saw this brand of eggs selling for about $6 a dozen.

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Vital Farms even includes the above little flyer explaining the lives of their ladies.  I love that they call them ladies.  Anyway – assuming they are not pulling off some elaborate hoax – these guys seem to be a good source for eggs that come from happy chickens.  I got mine at a local Ralph’s but their site lists other venders.  Look for one near you!

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Ok – onto this pasta.  A Facebook friend requested it & I could not believe I had not already posted the recipe.  This dish is an old regular of mine from 25 years ago & there is a funny story that goes with it.  I used to make it all the time at home & for company & many of my friends had asked for the recipe.  One day, my then boyfriend & I were served a mushroom cream pasta dish at my friend Angie’s.  My boyfriend took one taste & looked at me and said, “Babe!  This is amazing!  You have to ask for her recipe!”

Yeah.  Well – it WAS my recipe.  The only difference was that she added salt to hers & I was still brainwashed into thinking using salt was a capital sin.   I learned that lesson well that day & now I consider salt a genuine ingredient in most things – not just a forgettable & optional seasoning.  There are all kinds of fancy salts widely available now, too, and some even have healthy benefits.  Pink Himalayan salt, for example, boasts these benefits:

(from http://fitlife.tv/10-amazing-benefits-of-pink-himalayan-salt/)

  • Create an electrolyte balance
  • Increases hydration
  • Regulate water content both inside and outside of cells
  • Balance pH (alkaline/acidity) and help to reduce acid reflux
  • Prevent muscle cramping
  • Aid in proper metabolism functioning
  • Strengthen bones
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help the intestines absorb nutrients
  • Prevent goiters
  • Improve circulation
  • Dissolve and eliminate sediment to remove toxins

 

So, yeah – use salt.   Salt is not just a flavor unto itself.  It also brings out & enhances other flavors.  Trust me.  Too much is awful but just the right amount is magic.

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Fried Sage and Mushroom Cream Pasta Sauce with Orecchiette

Feeds 2 very well

INGREDIENTS

1/2 pound pasta cooked according to package instructions

Olive oil

10 or more fresh sage leaves

1 lb mushrooms (of nearly any variety or mix) – sliced

2 shallots – chopped

3 garlic cloves – chopped

1 cup heavy cream (more if you want a heavier cream sauce) – or vegan alternative

1/4 cup grated Parmesan – (more if you want a heavier cream sauce) – or vegan alternative

Salt & pepper to taste

Parsley – chopped as garnish (it adds a lot of flavor!)

Extra Parmesan for garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the pasta.  Reserve about a cup of the pasta water (in case you need it to thin your sauce later) & drain the pasta.

Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil over med-high heat & fry the sage a few minutes.  It need not brown.  Drain on paper towels.

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Add the mushrooms & about a tsp of salt & raise the heat to high.  The salt will help the mushrooms release their moisture.  Stir the mushrooms occasionally – letting them get seared.  When they are nice & brown – add about another TBS of olive oil & the shallots & garlic.  Fry for about 2 minutes & then add the cream & Parmesan.   Crumble the fried sage & add that to the sauce.  Bring to a boil & then lower to a simmer.  It should thicken very quickly.  Use more cream & cheese if you want a pasta with more sauce.  Add some pasta water if it gets too thick.   When it is the consistency of a heavy cream sauce – season to taste with salt & pepper.  Add the pasta, stir to combine & serve it up.  Garnish liberally with chopped parsley & maybe more Parmesan.

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