Friday, September 30, 2011

Farfalle pasta with Brussels sprouts & mushrooms

Remember that plan for pasta that I alluded to earlier this week?  Last night, I brought it to life in my kitchen, and boy, aren't those appropriate words.  I give you...

Green is good pasta!  
Mother Nature pasta!
Into the woods pasta!
Earthy pasta!

Um, ahem, I'm a little undecided on the name still, but I'm totally sold on the taste and flavor combos in this dish!  Sauteed mushrooms and garlic, shredded Brussels sprouts, and a lil bit o' basil pesto to bring the whole thing together.

What I love about this dish is how (ahem) earthy it feels.  Please dispose of any images of hippies in Birkenstock sandals before we continue.  Thank you kindly.  What I mean by earthy is healthy, refreshing, clean, and packing so many levels of flavor!

And all of it is so gorgeous and fresh-from-the-farm this time of year.  The basil bounty from summer won't go to waste if you're making homemade pesto.  Or, er, that container of it that you scored from the grocery store won't end up in the wrong hands :)

I started by peeling the outer layers from the sprouts and shredding them.

Meanwhile, I brought a pot of salted water to boil and dropped in these little bow ties to cook.  (Wouldn't it be great if tuxedo bow ties were made of pasta?  I'm going to suggest this to Matt for our wedding.  Three guesses as to how that will go.)

Back to the woods farm.  Button mushrooms and garlic into the pan with some EVOO (that's extra virgin olive oil) to get nice and golden and yummy.  Don't forget the salt and pepper.

Add the sprouts to soften slightly and toss to mix everything together.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it but reserve juuuust a bit of the pasta water -- about 1/4 cup.  Toss the pasta and reserved water into the pan and toss to combine.

Why the pasta water, you ask?  While the noodles were cooking, they released some starches into the water.  By keeping some of the water and mixing it back in with the pasta and veggies, the water will help seasoning and sauce stick to the noodles.

What's that?  Oh, right, I haven't told you about the sauce yet, but I know you saw this coming: pesto! 

The pasta that's already good enough to sample (take my word for it) became dynamite with the addition of the smooth, cheesy, basil-y, nutty pesto!  Already looking like a million bucks, I dug in, sure to be satisfied.  "Satisfied" totally does not aptly describe what was going through my brain as it processed what my taste buds were digging.

The mushrooms were tender and juicy, while the sprouts were both soft with a bit of snap left to them.  The chewy light pasta was a carbohydrate lover's dream, and the pesto... well, the pesto needs no words.  Frankly, this entire dinner really needs no more explanation or convincing -- did I mention it took about 15 minutes to throw together? -- so I'll go right ahead and shut my mouth now as long as you promise to cook this... and invite me over for dinner.  Too much?  Shh, Katy...

Farm Fresh aka whatever-you-call-it Pasta
-serves 2

A few notes: A cut up chicken breast or link of your favorite sausage would make this dish heartier/manlier for those who in your lives who have bigger appetites.

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
8 Brussel sprouts, cleaned and shredded/thinly sliced
1 cup uncooked bowtie or other small pasta
1/4 cup pasta water, reserved
3 Tablespoons prepared pesto

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to darken slightly, about 5 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, and sprouts, tossing, and cook until sprouts have softened, 5 to 8 minutes. 
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta until al dente or to desired firmness/softness.  Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the water, and return pasta and water to skillet with veggies.  Remove from heat, and add pesto and toss entire mixture until thoroughly combined.  Serve immediately.

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