We had a very productive trip to the Crescent City Farmers Market last week. Not sure how much winter produce would be available, we were pleasantly surprised to find the most tender and delicious broccoli, dark leafy kale, cauliflower, lots of locally grown citrus and incredibly fresh shiitake mushrooms.
Mushrooms are one of those products I've been thinking about growing at home. There is a lot of information out there about home growing kits and I was surprised to find the vendor at the market not only sold the shrooms, but also the kits. The traditional way of growing shiitake mushrooms is with shiitake grow logs. However, many companies are now using a blend of sawdust and nutrients in a grow bag that can give you 6-7 good crops of mushrooms, around 2lbs., with little work or space, and all for under $30!
Mississippi Natural Products, the vendor at the CCFM, sells the kits online at http://www.naturalmushrooms.com/
or, visit them at the market where you can first buy some mushrooms from them and see what you think! We found them incredibly fresh and tasty and created a wonderful pasta dish. I've tried to recreate the recipe below, but since I don't measure much the quantities might be a little iffy...but you'll get the general idea!
Pasta with Fresh Shiitakes and Bacon
1 T. butter
1/4 lb natural smoked bacon, diced
4 cloves garlic sliced
5 oz. sliced fresh shiitakes
1/4 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. white wine
pasta of choice
1/4 c. pasta water (reserved from cooking your pasta)
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
1/4 c. grated piave cheese (similar to parmesan, but younger, softer)
pepperoncini (red pepper flakes)
good quality olive oil (I used the Mandranova oil I wrote about in last blog)
fine bread crumbs
- Put your pasta on to boil with just a sprinkle of salt. I used a whole wheat angel hair for this
- Throw the butter and bacon in a big fry pan and on med to high heat, fry 'til the edges start to brown.
- Move the bacon to the sides of the pan and throw in the garlic. Add a little more butter or some olive oil if the pan seems to dry. Fry 'til the garlic is soft.
- Throw in the mushrooms, and mix them around with the bacon and garlic to coat them with butter and bacon fat.
- Add chicken stock, wine, pasta water, a little sea salt and half of the parsley. Bring it to a quick boil and then reduce to a simmer until the liquid reduces to about half.
- Add your drained pasta to the pan, pepper and pepperoncino and gently mix with the other ingredients.
- There should be a good amount of liquid in the pan, so add some of the bread crumbs to help thicken the sauce. This is one of Lidia Bastianich's tricks that I've been using lately.
- Simmer for another minute. Turn off the heat and add a couple of gulps of good quality olive oil drizzled all around the pasta, and sprinkle with half the cheese.
- Garnish each serving with a good sprinkle of parsley and cheese.