Seven years ago today, Louis and I had our first date. It almost didn’t happen. This was back when we were both social butterflies, and we were having trouble lining up a date and time to meet. In retrospect, we both must have been keen, as we ultimately agreed to meet late on a Friday night, after we had each been out to other parties. So it was, that I found myself sitting at the counter of The City Wine Shop, with two bowls of spaghetti and meatballs. I had ordered for both of us, as the kitchen was about to close, and Louis was still on his way. As I sat by myself, the waiter who had been slicing bread behind the counter, grabbed some foil to wrap up the dishes and keep them warm.
In my more fanciful moments, I retrospectively interpret the waiter’s act as the universe telling me that it would be worth waiting for what was to come. And the waiter/universe was not wrong. Seven years later, and after all the ups and downs, I have zero regrets. Those meatballs had been worth waiting for. 😉
A lot has changed since that first date – Louis is now vegetarian, and while we are free most nights, good luck getting either of us out of the house on a school night.
Something that hasn’t changed though, is that we both still love pasta. So it was that one year ago, Il Solito Posto was the scene for our Six Year celebration. I had a beautiful truffle risotto, and Louis had a mushroom lasagne. The waiter recommended a rocket & apple salad on the side, and all in all it was a perfect meal and perfect night – inspirational in fact.
As much as I loved the risotto, I didn’t for a minute consider trying to make it at home – rice is banned in our house, as it does horrendous things to Louis’ BGLs. The mushroom lasagne on the other hand, seemed perfect for replication.
I started with Stephanie Alexander’s recipe for pine forest mushrooms with garlic, cream and parsley. Then I would pull sheets of cooked lasagne from pots of boiling water, and attempt to layer them with the mushroom mixture. After months of scalded fingers, the laziness took over, and I realised how much simpler it would be, just to toss cooked pasta through the mushrooms before serving – it also hurt less. I might do anything for love, but there are some things even I won’t do for pasta. Happy Seven Years Louis!
Mushroom Pasta, and Apple Salad
Per serve: 3.1 Exchanges, 46g carbohydrates, 2109 kJ, 504 Calories
- 100g spaghetti
- 400g mushrooms
- 20g unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon garlic paste
- ¼ cup cream
- ¼ cup skim milk
- 60g baby spinach
- 1 small apple (125g cored)
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- Place a large pot of salted water over high heat.
- While the water is coming to the boil, core the apple and slice into matchsticks using a mandolin. Toss the lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil through the apple sticks, then add to the rocket.
- Clean the mushrooms and slice into thick chunks.
- Once the water has boiled, add the spaghetti and cook according to instructions on the packet.
- While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large frying pan over high heat, and add the mushrooms. Stir to evenly coat the mushrooms in the melted butter, then stir occasionally, to stop the mushrooms from catching and burning in the pan.
- Once the mushrooms have reduced in size and are browned, add the garlic. Stir the garlic through the mushrooms. Add the cream and milk and stir through. Season with salt and pepper.
- Continue cooking the mushroom mixture over high heat, until the cream/milk has reduced to a saucy consistency. Transfer the cooked pasta to the frying pan and toss through. If the sauce is not thick enough, add a splash of the water the pasta was cooked in.
- Serve the pasta immediately, with the apple salad.
- Mushrooms: I used to hate mushrooms when I was younger. I still harbour a lot of bad feelings towards the insipid white mushrooms you find lurking in the local supermarket. For this recipe I recommend using the heartiest mushrooms you can find: Swiss brown/Portobello or even Shiitake are good.
- I used 60g of rocket here which is a lot – I would probably use just 30g next time.
- Baby spinach would be a suitable substitute for the rocket.
- Use the largest, widest saucepan you have for the mushrooms. If you don’t, you might find the mushrooms steam in their own juices, rather than browning.
- If you don’t have a mandolin, and/or are scared of how sharp they are, you can just thinly slice the apple using a knife.