All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018
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Click the image of me below to watch the sauce recipe WITHOUT the mushroom. These images here reflect the use of a crazy lobster mushroom I bought when I originally made this recipe. You need not use the mushroom – in fact – I rather suggest against it because it was very expensive and underwhelming but I include it here, anyway, for the curious & the risk takers.
I went to the farmer’s market for the first time in forever. Once there, I was reminded of why I no longer go. IT COSTS A FORTUNE. Everything seems reasonable until you walk out with fingers screaming from the pain of carrying 400 pounds of produce & $200 poorer. But it is always fun & there are usually yummy things to sample. This time there were almond croissants the size of footballs, boxes of mixed mushrooms for $20, some peana & eggphan (I can’t resist misspelled signs).
There were also golden beets that were larger than a softball and the crazy-looking thing above. That, my friends, is a lobster mushroom. It was about the size of a small Russet potato & weighed about 4 ounces. I asked the mushroom monger what it was & she told me it was a lobster mushroom. I asked why they were called that & was told that they not only have a reddish color similar to a cooked lobster but also that they have a slight seafood taste. I had to have one! I let her pick one out and as she weighed it, I began pulling out ones to pay for it. I pulled for a while because that fucker there cost me $17!!! I almost choked at the price but decided it would be a worthy blog post so I paid & walked away – wondering what the fuck I was gonna do with it.
Intimidated by the idea of ruining a $17 mushroom barely larger than my fist, I Googled to see what others had done with them. I found this gorgeous photo & checked out the recipe at THE COFFEE TABLE COOKBOOK.
I had the bulk of the ingredients already so I decided to make a vegan version of their FETTUCCINI WITH LOBSTER MUSHROOM AND SCRATCH-MADE HEIRLOOM TOMATO SAUCE. I simplified the sauce recipe quite a bit but the most interesting thing I learned from their post was the concept of grating tomatoes. Click that link & see how it is done & how not to grate your flesh into the sauce. You basically grate the tomatoes on a box grater & it results in a beautiful tomato puree without any skin. See below.
I added a lot of crushed red pepper to my sauce which might have been a mistake because the spicy sauce sort of overwhelmed the very delicately flavored lobster mushroom. The mushroom had only the slightest mushroom flavor & no seafood element at all. Those photos above are the mushroom cut up. Looks like chicken or pork – or bread. It is very light & porous so it reduced to almost nothing in the saute pan. Overall – I would say there is no reason to pay so much for what amounts to so little. Regular mushrooms are just as good and far less costly.
I do recommend trying this sauce, however. I eliminated the dairy from the original recipe & also could not bring myself to add a cup of the precious – a cup of white wine – to the sauce just to cook it off. I felt the wine would be better used poured down my gullet & I don’t think the sauce suffered and I know I didn’t.
Vegan Pasta with Heirloom Tomato Sauce & Lobster Mushroom
1/2 lb pasta
for the sauce
5 large heirloom tomatoes – grated (see here)
1 TBS olive oil
2 garlic cloves – chopped
1/2 tsp to 1 TBS crushed red pepper – to taste
10 basil leaves (plus more for garnish)
several sprigs of fresh thyme
IF USING – for the mushroom
4 oz lobster mushroom (or 1/2 lb regular mushrooms)
2 TBS olive oil or vegan butter
3 garlic cloves – chopped
1 tsp thyme leaves
for the sauce
Heat the olive oil & add the garlic. Saute one minutes & then add the other ingredients. Simmer on med-high until it reduces by about half. Season to taste. Remove the thyme sprigs and throw them away.
for the mushrooms
Heat the olive oil or vegan butter and saute the mushrooms until they are nearly done to your liking. Add the garlic & thyme & cook another minute or two. Be sure not to burn the garlic. Season with S&P.
Cook the pasta as directed & toss with the sauce. Serve & top with mushrooms & chopped fresh basil.