Friday, February 26, 2010

Make this for dinner

I'm not really a pasta person (not anymore, at least), but some things are just too good to pass up. And I would make an exception for a big bowl of this: toothsome strands of fresh pasta, entangled in a mess of lemony roasted artichokes, seared oyster mushrooms and crispy shallots, all glossed with a brown butter-lemon beurre blanc and topped with fresh herbs, grated parmesan and a bit of lemon zest.

This was the vegetarian option for today's menu. The sauce was Sarah's idea, and a killer one at that!

Here is the recipe. It's fairly straightforward - just prep your vegetables while the pasta is resting, and keep an eye on that sauce.

The pasta:
Incorporate 4 eggs into 1# flour; adjust with more flour or egg as necessary. Knead. It should be firm but smooth and elastic. Cover and let rest for one hour. Roll out to one millimeter thick and cut into 1/4 inch strands. Toss with flour so it doesn't stick.

The vegetables:
Roasted Artichokes
Prepare some artichokes: cut the top inch off. Peel the outer leaves until you reach the pale green ones. Pare down the base and stem until the artichoke is evenly yellow/pale green. Cut in half lengthwise, scrape out the choke, then slice into eighths. Dress with olive oil and lemon, season heavily. Roast at 400* until the outside is crispy and the insides are tender.

Sauteed Mushrooms
Clean and slice your choice of mushrooms: cremini or buttons, chanterelles, oyster (our shroom of choice for this dish), or whichever ones you last saw growing out in the cow pasture (just kidding...) Heat a large saute pan over high heat. Add a small amount of oil and heat until it is just starting to smoke. Saute the mushrooms in batches - it is very important that you don't crowd them or they will sweat water and steam. Season with salt and pepper.

Crispy Shallots
Slice shallots thinly and toss with olive oil and salt. Roast at 400* until brown and crispy.

The sauce (a modified beurre blanc):
Brown 1/4 # of butter (cook until the milk solids turn dark brown and fragrant; strain). In a saucepan, reduce the juice of two lemons and some white wine until it is thick and syrupy. Add 1/4 cup of heavy cream and reduce slightly. While whisking, add cubes of cold butter (a total of 1/4 - 1/2#) alternating with the brown butter. Keep over low or no heat during this time so it doesn't overheat and separate. Season to taste.

Put it all together:
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for 30-60 seconds (taste it! it should taste and feel cooked, but not mushy). Drain and put in a saucepan with the hot vegetables. Ladle the sauce in (as much as you need) and toss. Add minced fresh herbs if you have them - parsley and tarragon are nice - and top with grated parmesan and lemon zest.

Hope you like it!

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