Gremolata Mushroom Pasta

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta | Cravings & Crumbs

I’m at that point in the year when vegetables just don’t sound good to me.  Sure, I want to eat tons of vegetables, my body is asking me to eat vegetables, but when I walk through the produce aisle at the store nothing calls out to me or gets me excited.  Except mushrooms.  Mushrooms and broccoli are my saving grace in winter.  

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta | Cravings & Crumbs

I’ve been cooking them all sorts of ways, but recently I was thumbing through Joshua McFadden’s new book, Six Seasons, and as I was flipping through the pages the heavens parted, birds started chirping, and there they were, these gremolata mushrooms.  Good ‘ol mushrooms.  

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta | Cravings & Crumbs

Sure, I felt a little lame that in a book with so many inspiring recipes for often overlooked vegetables (think celery root, kohlrabi, rutabaga, and turnips) I went straight for the familiar.  What I’ve found about McFadden’s recipes is that even with ingredients that you’ve cooked before, he presents them to you in a whole new light.  In this dish we start by sauteeing mushrooms with garlic and olive oil.  Simple, basic.  Then we cover them with briny capers, lemon zest and juice, more garlic, and a ton of parsley.  The gremolata totally transforms the mushrooms by brightening them up and adding interest.  For me, the secret ingredient is the lemon zest.  Using zest is kind of a cheffy trick that makes a huge impact, but as a home cook I often forget about it.  Here, it really makes the dish.  

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta | Cravings & Crumbs

Last, but not least, I added pasta and a ton of parmesan because its winter and I need to plump myself up to stay warm!  Adding pasta rounds out the dish and turns it into a full meal.  Next time you’re craving a satisfying meatless meal, or just want a freakin’ delicious mushroom pasta recipe, look no further!

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta | Cravings & Crumbs

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 3 T olive oil + a little more
  2. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  4. 1 T capers, chopped
  5. Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  6. ½ c. flat leaf parsley
  7. Salt and pepper
  8. 1 lb mushrooms (crimini or fancier, whatever you feel like)
  9. ½ lb cavatappi or other similar pasta
  10. Grated parmesan
Instructions
  1. Add capers, lemon zest and juice to a small bowl.
  2. Heat 3 T olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, but not browned at all, about 1 minute.
  3. Pour the hot garlic oil into the bowl with the lemon and capers. Add ¾ of the parsley, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  4. Chop the mushrooms into large pieces. Heat a little more olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Use the flat side of a large knife to whack/smash remaining garlic cloves. Add the garlic and mushrooms to the frying pan and season with salt and pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are browned and crispy on the edges, 12-15 mins, adding more oil as needed.
  5. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, but don’t rinse.
  6. Add pasta, mushrooms, and gremolata and stir to combine.Top with remaining parsley and as much parmesan as you want.
Adapted from Joshua McFadden
Adapted from Joshua McFadden
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Fancy Mushroom Toasts

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

I have a sort of foodie friend in the office I work in.  We chat about recipes we’ve tried, new ingredients we found, what we’re going to cook over the weekend, cookbooks, pretty much anything food related.  I love finding people who love to cook because talking to them gets me excited about new flavors, cuisines, and ingredients that I might not have been familiar with or known about before.

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

A few weeks ago he came into the office on Monday morning talking about a meal he had at Gjelina over the weekend.  He led with the dessert heavenly butterscotch pots de creme then he moved on to the mushroom toast.  I have no idea what else he ate there because we couldn’t move past the mushrooms.  Oh my god, the mushroom toast.  The chef says he can’t take these off the menu because the customers will revolt.  They’re that good.

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

Like any obsessive home cook, he had already bought the cookbook and was ready to try to recreate them at home.  I wouldn’t have thought much more about these mushroom toasts except to ask for a follow-up the next week.  But the next week he hadn’t made them.  The week after that he bought a mixture of fancy mushrooms at the farmer’s market, but was stymied by the homemade creme fraiche, which had to be cultured at exactly 78° F…  Three weeks I waited for the report on the mushrooms toasts!  And in the meantime I found myself reading blog posts of people who had recreated them and scrolling through instagram shots from the restaurant just to see what they looked like in their natural habitat.  Yeah, I know I have problems.

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

Eventually i had to take matters into my own hands.  A quick trip to my local produce market to pick up mushrooms and good bread and a jaunt over to Trader Joe’s for reasonably priced creme fraiche and I was ready!  I was out of garlic confit, although I have a recipe for my version right over here, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.  I quickly infused some garlic in oil, used that to toast the breads.  You can toast them in the toaster, but for this recipe it’s much better on the stovetop (or grill, as the original recipe calls for) because the outside will be incredibly crunchy, but the inside of the slices will still be moist and springy.  A quick saute of the mushrooms, reduction of some white wine and shallots, and the addition of some creme fraiche and I was eating the best lunch I could ask for!

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

The recipe notes say that the chef enjoys a big slab of mushroom toast with an earthy glass of red wine for dinner and I must say he’s on to something.  Normally you might match the wine to whatever type of wine you used in the dish, but here the earthy meatiness of the mushrooms is perfect with red.  This is a decadent and delicious vegetarian appetizer or main course that I would be more than happy to eat again and again.

So here it is, a doable version of the original.  Although homemade garlic confit and homemade buttermilk creme fraiche would undoubtedly be amazing with this recipe, if they’re holding you back from making this recipe then don’t do them!  If you do want to go the extra mile, you can find the original recipe in full here.

Fancy Mushroom Toasts
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Ingredients
  1. ⅓ c. olive oil
  2. 5 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  3. 2-4 slices good bread (depending on size)
  4. ½ lb mushrooms (see notes)
  5. Salt and pepper
  6. 2 T minced shallots
  7. 1 T butter (optional)
  8. ½ c. dry white wine
  9. 1T fresh thyme
  10. ½ c. creme fraiche
  11. 2 T fresh parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Add the olive oil and garlic slices to a small frying pan over medium-low heat. Cook until garlic slices are beginning to brown on the edges, then remove with a slotted spoon and save for later. Remove oil from heat.
  2. Use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of garlic oil on both sides of the bread. Heat a frying pan over medium heat for 10 minutes, then add the bread in a single layer. Cook until the bread is crispy and browned on the first side, then flip and cook the second side in the same manner. Remove the toasts to a plate.
  3. Separate or chop mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. This will mean different things based on which mushrooms you have so use your best judgment of what size mushroom chunks will fit nicely on your toast. Turn the heat under the frying pan to medium high and add 3 T of the garlic olive oil to the frying pan. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook undisturbed until seared and well browned, about 5 minutes. Stir the mushrooms, add the shallots and the butter if the pan seems like it needs more moisture. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the wine, thyme, and reserved garlic slices and continue to cook until reduced by half.
  4. Stir in the creme fraiche and cook until thickened slightly, 1-2 mins. Stir in the parsley, taste and season again with salt and pepper, then spoon the mushrooms evenly over your toasts.
Notes
  1. Although these are fancy mushroom toasts, you should feel free to use any mushrooms that you have access to or can afford. I really know nothing about fancy mushrooms so I picked these based on looks and price and ended up with oyster and brown clamshell. The original recipe suggests a mix of nameko, hen of the woods, chanterelle, porcini, or matsutake. However, the mushrooms share the spotlight with the sauce and toast and as I was eating these I thought they would be just as delicious with regular old sliced crimini.
Adapted from Gjelina
Adapted from Gjelina
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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