Here’s the thing. It’s difficult to rationalize spending time writing my on my hobby blog when I’m about to change jobs and move across the country. I thought I would just miss a week, or maybe two, and then pick things back up again during my one week off between jobs. However, not having a fully functional keyboard on my personal laptop made typing a less than enticing proposition. At least I managed to pack my recipe notebook and back up my Lightroom library to a USB drive, and I bought a cheap keyboard, so I’m more or less back in a good place for blogging. So, let’s just pick back up where I left off last month, with the Mushroom, Goat’s Cheese, Pear, and Walnut Fettuccine from the glamorous vegetarian cookbook Green Kitchen at Home.
David and Luise’s new cookbook is subdivided by “cooking at home style”, with a “during the week” section promising fast and delicious weeknight favorites. This pasta took me about double the promised amount of time (45 minutes instead of 25), but as weeknight dinners go, it’s completely doable. Also, this was the first dinner I cooked in my new sublet’s kitchen and I haven’t quite figured out where everything lived, so my timing might be a little skewed toward the longer range.
One of the beauties of this Mushroom, Goat’s Cheese, Pear, and Walnut Fettuccine (or any pasta dish, really), is that you can replace some or all of the pasta with spiralized vegetable noodles, shirataki noodles, or bean noodles if you are looking to avoid gluten/extra calories. I opted for a 50/50 mix of whole wheat fettuccine and spiralized zucchini because I ate way too much ice cream last month…
Since I was already starving when I went grocery shopping for this fettuccine, I neglected to weigh my mushrooms or to check the weight of my goat’s cheese purchase. I shorted this recipe on both ingredients, and I highly recommend that you not make the same mistake. Without the right proportions, this pasta dinner is good, but it’s not nearly as creamy and fully flavored as it deserves to be.
Once you have the right amounts of your ingredients, this dinner is really simple. Start some water boiling, and while it’s heating, chop up rosemary, sage, garlic, and the pound of mushrooms. Pan-fry the aromatics in some butter or olive oil, then add in the mushrooms. Let them saute without disrupting them for 5 minutes, then flip them and fry another 5 minutes (if you feel your pan needs more oil here, add more oil). While the mushrooms are sauteing, you can prep your goat’s cheese and baby greens, toast and chop the walnuts, slice a ripe pear, grate some pecorino, and spiralize any vegetables you’re planning to use. By the time you’ve done all this, the water for the pasta ought to be boiling and the mushrooms are probably close to done.
Cook the pasta, finish up any prep work you need to do, and towards the end of the pasta cooking time, add the goat’s cheese and baby greens to the pan with the mushrooms. Let the cheese become melty and the greens wilt, you’ll want to stir in at least a teaspoon of Kosher salt probably and 5-6 grinds of fresh black pepper. At this point, if you’re using spiralized zucchini, add them now. Also add 1/4-1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water if you want to make the sauce more “saucy”. Drain the pasta, toss it with your mushroom-herb-cheese-greens sauce, top with the sliced pears and chopped walnuts, and serve with grated pecorino, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar on the side.
This pasta dish is like a re-imagining of one of my favorite salads (green apples, caramelized walnuts, baby spinach, goat’s cheese), except this is better because it has sauteed mushrooms and pasta. The pear pairs really well with the mushrooms, walnuts, and greens, and an appropriate amount of salt helps bring together the savory/sweet/earthy/creamy flavors. I liked this pasta dish a lot, although I wasn’t such a huge fan of it that I want to make it again next week, or the week after. I’m calling it right on the line of being a keeper dish.
Original source: Green Kitchen at Home.
Mushroom, Goat's Cheese, Pear, and Walnut Fettuccine
- 1 pound fettuccine (bean, lentil, buckwheat, whole wheat, regular, or spiralized vegetables) enough for 4 servings
- 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves picked from stalk
- 20 leaves fresh sage
- 500 grams ( 1 lb) mixed mushrooms (baby shitake, cremini, portobello, morel, or bolete) cleaned
- 50 grams (1 cup) baby spinach or other baby greens
- 200 grams soft goat's cheese crumbled
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt plus more to taste
- 5-6 turns fresh cracked pepper
- 1/2 cup pasta cooking water
- 1 pear firm but ripe, thinly sliced
- 1/4-1/2 cup pecorino or other hard cheese freshly grated
- 2 handfuls walnuts toasted and roughly chopped
- extra-virgin olive oil or walnut oil or butter
- balsamic vinegar
Bring a large stockpot filled three-quarters with water to a boil. Add a teaspoon of salt, then the fettuccine you've selected, and cook for the minimum recommended time (until just al dente). Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and toss the cooked noodles with a drizzle of oil to keep them from sticking.
Meanwhile, heat the butter or oil in a large, wide skillet over medium-low heat. Finely chop the herbs and garlic, then add them to the pan with the butter. Saute for one to two minutes, until fragrant.
Thinly slice the mushrooms, add them to the pan with the herbs and garlic, increase the heat to medium-high, and saute without stirring for about 5 minutes. Once the mushrooms are golden on the bottom, turn them over and continue cooking another 5 minutes, until golden on both sides and tender. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do this in two batches.
Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the goat's cheese and baby greens, until the greens wilt and the cheese melts in. Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding in some of the reserved pasta cooking water if the sauce is too dry.
Fold the cooked fettuccine into the sauce, then serve topped with slices of the pear, a sprinkle of pecorino and chopped walnuts, plus additional seasonings as desired (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper).