This dish was inspired by some lovely fennel and crimini mushrooms I found at the West Side Market, where I had stopped for provisions on the way home from my voice lesson the other evening. A quick IPhone search in the store yielded an old recipe from Regina Schrambling for Hunter-Style Pasta, named for its use of ingredients that “evoke the forest in fall”. I also found this recipe from Epicurious. (Don’t you love what you can do with a phone these days?) Combining elements of both, I ended up with a hearty but not too heavy pasta that is a real keeper.
Serve with a large green salad and a crusty French bread. It also makes a fabulous lunch reheated the next day with a little Mozzarella cheese on top.
Farfalle with Fennel & Mushrooms
The key to this dish is to slice the fennel and the dried mushrooms really thin and the fresh mushrooms really thick. I also thought about trying it without the tomato paste – if you decide to make it that way let me know how it tastes.
- 1 ounce dried mushrooms
- 1 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, halved through core, very thinly sliced lengthwise (about 3 cups), fronds chopped
- 1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, cut into very thick slices (I the mushrooms are small, just halve them)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
- 2-4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup half and half
- a few red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup minced parsley
- 1 pound farfalle pasta
- Salt to taste
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Soak the dried mushrooms in the hot water for about a half hour, till soft, then drain, reserving the liquid, and cut into very thin strips. Set aside. Strain the mushroom liquid if necessary and set aside.
2. While the mushrooms are soaking, start your water boiling for the pasta, adding a tbsp of salt to the water in a large pot. Toast the pine nuts on an un-greased baking sheet in a 300 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, stirring once, until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
3. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large deep saute pan over medium high heat. Add the fennel, shallots and mushrooms, and saute until fennel is almost tender, about 12 -15 minutes. About halfway through the saute, start your pasta cooking. When the fennel is almost tender, add the garlic and fennel seeds and saute another minute. Add the white wine and cook off a bit, then stir in the tomato paste and mushroom liquid, cook a minute and then add the half and half. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-high heat until the sauce is thickened, about 5 mins.
4. While the sauce is thickening, finish off and drain your pasta (leave a little pasta water on your pasta if the sauce is thick). Toss the pasta with the sauce and parsley right in the pan. Bring the pan to the table. Serve hot, sprinkled with pine nuts. Pass the Parmesan.
YIELD: 6 -8 servings