*UPDATE – Where was my mind? I am talking about oyster mushrooms, not chestnut. Oyster. Duh!*
Sometimes I wake up thinking about dinner. Does anyone else do that?
For two days I have been thinking about pasta, and although in my head it was a rich, tomato-y dish with so much mascarpone you can barely see the tomato, and so many lardons you can barely see the mascarpone, I am, in fact, trying to lose weight.
And although I already devoured a leggera pizza in Pizza Express for lunch, it was pasta tonight, like it or not. At least I skipped breakfast and went for a run beforehand.
This dish is loosely based on Gordon Ramsay’s mushroom and leek pasta recipe, which is undoubtedly delicious. I have made it before. One crucial element missing though is cheese… or meat… you know how it goes.
Actually, we had a discussion over giving up cheese or meat for Lent over lunch, and I definitely came to the conclusion that I’d rather give up meat, or chocolate, or anything (minus wine) instead of cheese. (I mean, can you really have cheese without wine? Does that even count?)
So here it is – my mushroom and leek pasta, perfected with cheese.
One package of chestnut oyster mushrooms (I think they simply rule the mushroom kingdom, that’s it, your point is invalid) One leek, washed and finely sliced
Two cloves of garlic, finely chopped About 50g soft goat’s cheese, crumbled on top
A cube of butter to make it all silky Pasta, enough for you – or more, as it always turns out anyways Salt and freshly ground black pepper Thyme Big pinch of cayenne (tip hat to Chef John) A handful of pink peppercorns to top
This recipe couldn’t be easier.
Cook the pasta as per packet – although really, who checks the packet? Just boil it in salted water until it tastes like you want to eat more. Or, alternatively, throw it up on the wall; if it sticks, you’re done. Drain the pasta when done, reserving a good amount of the cooking water. Top tip: once drained, drizzle your pasta with some olive oil and make sure it’s well coated – stops the pasta from sticking together into one big ball. Very convenient.
Heat some olive oil in a pan and throw in your garlic to infuse. After a minute (and a half, perhaps), add your mushroom and season well with salt and black pepper. You will probably need more oil too, these babies need a lot.
After about two minutes, you can add your leeks (I used plenty) and keep frying for a bit. Let them soften, but you don’t need to overcook at this point.
For the final assembly, add your mushrooms and leeks back into your pasta pan. Add a generous splash of cooking water, as well as your cube of butter, thyme, cayenne and salt and pepper to your liking. Keep cooking until the butter has melted, the cooking water soaked up and all is looking glossy and delicious.
Just add your goat’s cheese and pink peppercorns when you’re serving – if the pasta is even remotely warm, the cheese will melt into it and it will all become a lovely, delicious Italian mess (much like Italians themselves, eh?).
Easy peasy, no prep, ready in 20 or less. Delicious though. Must… resist… seconds…
Vera Sugár, graduate with a journalism and creative writing degree, started writing at the age of 10. Passionate about literature, arts, history and languages, she speaks fluent English, French and Spanish. Her works are available at http://goodaswinter.wordpress.com.