With Thanksgiving over, I’ve switched to Winter Mode.
Winter Mode consists of uplifting meals whose main ingredients might include any or all of the following: pasta and/or noodles, cheese, butter, cream, and excessive liquid. Bacon makes a recurring appearance. As does chocolate. My preferred mode of cooking becomes baking. Or boiling. Boiling noodles, that is.
Of course, because our radiator goes on overdrive each and every night, we’re met with a rather bewildering dinnertime situation. To set the scene: we’re minimally dressed. No socks, no sweaters. We’re wearing t-shirts, shorts even. The window’s open—god, can we get some snow in here or something? (Just kidding, but I can’t wait!) While we eat, pools of sweat build up on our foreheads, right by our hairlines. (Why do I bother washing my hair?) My armpits start feeling damp, I’m blowing like crazy on each bite to cool it down.
It’s contradictory-feeling, the heat, and confuses my body greatly. I’m craving fats and proteins, but responding to the stuff adversely once I get it.
But it’s alright. There’s ice cream in the freezer, the perfect after-dinner aid. Armed with a heaping bowl each, we can dangle our feet on our fire escape and contemplate the following day.
To counter the richness, there are mushrooms.
In my estimation, mushrooms are the perfect stand-in for meat. They’re portly and satisfying, with their own irresistible flavors to boot. Plus, they’re not bad on the eyes. (Can tofu boast such a quality? I think not.)
I like shiitake mushrooms the best, but I like mixing them even more. This wild mushroom pasta serves them up simply, with a liberal sprinkling of parmesan cheese and parsley. I think the trick is to not overdo it on the pappardelle, which has the tendency to dry out the dish. While the original recipe called for an approximate one-to-one ratio of pasta and mushrooms, I would halve the heavy (albeit delicious) pappardelle and even increase the amount of mushrooms just a tad.
That way, you’ll really taste the garlicky mushrooms but get to savor the luscious pappardelle as well.
My body can cope with that.
PAPPARDELLE WITH WILD MUSHROOMS
Adapted from The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver
- 12 oz. mixed mushrooms
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- Dried red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- up to 8 oz. pappardelle
- 1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter
- a small handful of grated Parmesan cheese
- a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Brush off dirt from the mushrooms and slice thinly. In a very hot frying pan, add the olive oil, then the mushrooms. Let them fry fast, tossing once or twice, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes with a pinch of salt (season lightly, Jamie instructs, as a little really brings out the flavor). Continue to fry fast for 4 to 5 minutes, tossing regularly. Then turn the heat off and squeeze in the lemon juice. Toss and season to taste.
Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Add to the mushrooms, with the parmesan, parsley and butter. Toss gently, coating the pasta with the mushrooms and their flavor. Serve, scraping out all of the last bits of mushroom from the pan, and sprinkle with a little extra parsley and Parmesan.