Pasta With Mushroom Ragout And Spinach

• 1/2 ounce (about 1/2 cup) dried porcini mushrooms

• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

• 1/2 medium onion or 2 shallots, chopped

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 pound mixed regular and wild mushrooms or 1 pound regular white or
cremini mushrooms, trimmed and cut in thick slices (or torn into
smaller pieces, depending on the type of mushroom)

• Salt and freshly ground pepper

• 1/4 cup fruity red wine, such as a Côtes du Rhone or Côtes du Luberon

• 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or a combination of thyme and rosemary

• 6 ounces baby spinach or 12 ounces bunch spinach (1 bunch), stemmed
and thoroughly cleaned

• 3/4 pound penne (or bowties)

• Freshly grated Parmesan to taste (optional)

1. Place the dried mushrooms in a Pyrex measuring cup and pour on 2
cups boiling water. Let soak 30 minutes, while you prepare the other
ingredients. Place a strainer over a bowl, line it with cheesecloth or
paper towels, and drain the mushrooms. Squeeze the mushrooms over the
strainer to extract all the flavorful juices. Then rinse the
mushrooms, away from the bowl with the soaking liquid, until they are
free of sand. Squeeze dry and set aside. If very large, chop coarsely.
Measure out 1 cup of the soaking liquid and set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy, nonstick skillet over medium
heat and add the onion or shallots. Cook, stirring often, until
tender, about 5 minutes. Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the
fresh mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften and
sweat, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and salt to taste, stir
together for about 30 seconds, then add the reconstituted dried
mushrooms and the wine and turn the heat to high. Cook, stirring,
until the liquid boils down and glazes the mushrooms. Add the herbs
and the mushroom soaking liquid. Bring to a simmer, add salt to taste,
and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the mushrooms
are thoroughly tender and fragrant. Turn off the heat, stir in some
freshly ground pepper, taste and adjust salt.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Fill a
bowl with ice water. Add the spinach to the boiling water and blanch
for 20 seconds only. Remove with a skimmer and transfer to the ice
water, then drain and squeeze out water. Chop coarsely and add to the
mushrooms. Reheat gently over low heat.

4. Bring the water back to a boil and cook the pasta al dente
following the timing suggestions on the package. If there is not much
broth in the pan with the mushrooms and spinach, add a ladleful of
pasta water. Drain the pasta, toss with the mushrooms and spinach, add
Parmesan to taste, and serve at once.

Recipe notes:

*You can make this w/o dried mushrooms or a mix of mushrooms, I just made this recipe w/ only a container of Shitake (2 containers would have been better). You can use a cup of pasta water or chicken broth in place of the water that is reserved from reconstituting dried mushrooms

*You don’t have to blanch the spinach … I just cooked my pasta and drained (some water reserved) and then added the WELL washed loosely chopped spinach to the pasta (bowties) and tossed until the spinach wilted. Plate the spinach and pasta then drizzle mushroom sauce over top.

*You can use more spinach if desired, I used all the spinach that came in the box this week.

*You can use more garlic if desired, I used a head.

*You can use what alcohol you have on hand, sherry, marsala

* I added two chicken breast to this recipe. Cut the breast into ¼ – ½ inch slices (6 – 8 pieces depending on the size of the breast). Lay slices out flat and sprinkle with salt. Dredge in flower. Add couple of tbsp Olive Oil and Butter to large pan and heat on High until butter and oil start to turn brown, add chicken and sauté about 1 min on each side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.  Continue recipe in the same pan by reducing heat and adding shallots, etc.  Add chicken back to pan when the sauce is mostly reduced to finish cooking.

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