Monday, September 16, 2013

Orecchiete with Spinach, Cauliflower, and Hen of the Woods Mushrooms

It's Mushroom Week at M in the World! I've never yet met an earthy umami meaty mushroom that I haven't liked, so this week I'm going to post a few recipes that just wouldn't be the same if you left the ol' fungus out (queue a fungus among us joke). First up, a cheesy 'shroomy pasta dish because I'm done with light summer soups, and it's time to move on to heartier fare.

This is a pasta dish that's perfect for fall. Just this side of stick to your ribs, but hearty enough to tuck into when you've brought out your first warm scarf. It looks like it has a lot of parts to it, but it all comes together in the amount of time it takes for your pasta to cook.

Orecchiete with Spinach, Cauliflower, and Hen of the Woods Mushrooms

1 cup orecchiete pasta
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup raw cashew nuts (or walnuts)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup cauliflower florets (washed and dried)
1 cup hen of the woods mushrooms
2 cups spinach (washed and dried)
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp chili powder
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 - 2 tsp lemon juice
Parmesan cheese (to garnish)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

This dish literally comes together in the time it takes to cook the pasta - from the minute you put the pot of water on to boil, to the minute you take out and drain it.

Set the water on to boil and prep the veggies and mushrooms.

In a separate pan (preferably a white bottomed pan so you can see the color properly - it's very easy to burn butter while you're browning it) take 1/2 tbsp of butter and heat on low. Keep stirring so it doesn't burn and melts evenly. It will start frothing and then will become a delicious nutty brown. Add in the panko crumbs. Be careful - they can burn easily - so keep the heat on low and keep stirring frequently until they are evenly browned. Remove from heat and set aside. Make sure you get all or almost all the crumbs out of the pan, because you'll be using it a couple more times.

Add another 1/2 tbsp of butter into the pan and brown this. Add in the cashew nuts and stir them around on low heat until they are also nicely and evenly browned.

Add in 1 tbsp of butter and stir on low heat until it is nutty and brown. Add in the cauliflower florets, increase the heat just a little (you still want to be shy of medium) and keep stirring for 4-5 minutes or until they start getting tender and roasty. Add in the mushrooms and  cook for 2-3 minutes (don't you love hen of the woods? Mm mm!). Then add in the spinach and cook for a minute or two until they are just wilted (but still nice and bright green!).

Sprinkle on chili powder, nutmeg (just a dash of both of these), salt, and pepper, and add in the zest of 1/2 a lemon and the lemon juice.

Stir. At this point the pasta should be done, so drain and stir in with the veggies and mushrooms. Add in the grated parmesan and stir until everything is nicely mixed and looks deliciously gooey.

Serve with freshly grated parmesan and pepper.

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