Pasta ai Funghi al Forno

No class tonight; my turn to cook.  My go-to dishes are often about pasta, and tonight was no exception.  I had a fine organic Maitake mushroom and some leftover creminis in the refrigerator, so that’s where I started my cooking.  The dish took about 45 minutes to take a clear shape in my mind, mostly because of how the mushrooms were cooking.  If I had grilled them outside on the gas grill (a la plancha), they would have become crispy quickly, but since it was getting dark and the temperature had already dropped to 18° F., I took the path of sautéing them in olive oil on the stove.  Maitakes are wonderful, but they can take a long time to cook thoroughly, so it is always a challenge to steer between overdone/dried-out and overdone with liquid/mushy.

The keys tonight were to make leeks and tomatoes as a large part of the sauce, and to let the mushrooms braise with them, followed by baking at high heat to crisp everything up at the end.

Pasta ai Funghi al Forno recipe

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in baking dish

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For a small appetizer, I reheated some baby Brussels sprouts that were roasted to crispy the other night, and served them with a whole grain mustard and sour cream sauce.

The wine choice for tonight was the luscious 2010 Mas de Maha from Villa Creek in Paso Robles, CA.    A blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Carignan, it was a beautiful match for the richness of mushrooms, tomatoes and feta cheese.  The best of Italy, Spain and California melded together.  Life is good.

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