Procrastinating

It’s finals time again, and no wonder I’m back into posting a few things here and there. Cooking takes my mind off the less pleasurable tasks at hand (data analysis, paper writing, group presentations).

I had some leftover vegetables after Thanksgiving, as well as a desire to eat something rather meatless (after much meat intake), so I threw together a quick Penne with Mushrooms and Haricots Verts in White Wine Sauce last night.

Here’s a general guideline on what I used – my measurements were imprecise on most of the liquids, but pretty precise on everything else.

  • 1/2 lb whole wheat penne
  • 1/2 lb haricots verts (skinny, French-style green beans), cut in half
  • 1/2 lb cremini (“baby bella”) mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped coarsely
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2-3/4 cup stock (I used chicken, you could use vegetable, or even better, mushroom)
  • ~1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated finely, more to taste

Fill a large stockpot with cold water.  Add a generous amount of salt.  Pasta water should be about as salty as sea water.  Trust me, it sounds excessive, but your pasta will turn out much better.  As you bring the salted water to a boil, begin prepping and assembling your other ingredients.

That is: cut the haricots verts in half, slice the mushrooms, slice the shallots, mince the garlic, chop the rosemary, and zest the lemon.  Measure out two tablespoons of flour and put them in a small bowl.

Melt the butter in a large sautee pan, over medium high heat.  Add the haricots verts, mushroom and shallots.  Stir until all the vegetables are coated with the melted butter.  Cook uncovered for about 3-4 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to coat them all evenly.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until the flour begins to turn a very light brown.  Add the garlic and rosemary, stir to incorporate, and cover for about 5 minutes.

Hopefully, your pasta water should be at a raging boil sometime soon here.  Add the penne and cook til al dente.   (For my whole wheat penne, this was a full 13 minutes, despite the fact that the package said 10-12 for al dente.)

Back to the sauce!  Uncover the pan.  Add the cream and stir.  Add the wine, and stir.  Look at the consistency and decide how much stock you want to use to thin it out.  It’s a matter of personal taste here.  Start small (about 1/4 cup) and increase as you wish.  Keep in mind that the parmesan will help thicken your sauce again.

Once the pasta has reached your desired level of doneness, drain it and return it to the pot, adding a tiny bit of olive oil.  (NOTE: this practice is highly debated in cooking spheres: some people abhor adding oil, saying that it reduces the pasta’s ability to stick to sauce, or vice versa…  I’m flexible and not that stuck up…  Sometimes I’m a purist, and drain the pasta and lay it out on a cookie sheet in one layer, to stop the cooking without dousing it with water.  Then I’ll add it back to the sauce to reheat it before serving.  Other times when I know I’ll be eating the pasta very quickly after I cook it, like last night, I say screw it, and just add oil to the pasta in the very pot I cooked it in…  And guess what?  It turns out just fine!)

Go back to your sauce.  Add the parmesan and stir to melt all the cheese.  In a mixing bowl, combine the amount of pasta you plan to eat with the amount of this delicious sauce you want to devour.  Mix thoroughly and then dish the well-coated pasta into your serving dish.  Garnish with more parmesan, a sprig of rosemary and a bit of lemon zest – but only if you want to be fancy!

Bon appetit!

(Note re photos: capers appear in the first picture…  I planned on using them, but forgot.  They’d be tasty, but I think the dish has enough flavors as it is…)

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2 Responses to Procrastinating

  1. sounds really good. cuando nos podriamos ver? un desayuno?

    jg

  2. makenna aka kathy chinns daughter says:

    Awesome recipe, like all the rest, especially this one. I might have it for my birthday dinner.

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