Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pearl Pasta with Mushrooms


- 2 Shallots or small Red Onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 lb Mixed mushrooms (shitake, cremini, oyster), chopped uniformly
- 1 box Israeli Couscous, approx 2 cups
- 2 cups Chicken Stock (vegetable stock is fine too)
- Zest of 1 Lemon
- Juice of 1/2 Lemon (more or less to taste)
- 1 tablespoon fresh Thyme
- 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh Dill, finely chopped (more or less to taste)
- 2 tablespoons fresh Chives, finely chopped
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan (optional)
- Olive Oil
- Butter


- Heat about 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet until hot. Add just enough mushrooms to fit the pan but do not overcrowd. Overcrowding is the worst thing you can do when cooking’ll end up w/ chewy tasteless mushrooms. I suggest cooking each type of mushroom in separate batches b/c they cook at different rates. Sauté over medium high heat until browned and caramelized (this is key in achieving the best taste of the mushroom). Add more oil/butter as needed. Add a proportional amount of fresh thyme, and salt/pepper to taste to each batch of mushrooms.
- Once mushrooms are all sauteed, set aside in a bowl. You can also mix in some grated parmesan to taste.
- Clean your skillet out with a paper towel. Using the same skillet, add another tablespoon of oil and butter. Sauté the shallots over medium heat until soft and translucent.
- Add the pearl pasta and toast until lightly colored. Try to make sure that each "pearl" is coated in oil/butter (similar to how you would with risotto).
- While the pearls are toasting, add the minced garlic and cook only about a minute. Be sure not to burn the garlic.
- Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, approx. 8-10 minutes.
- Once pasta is done, fold in the mushrooms, dill, chives, lemon zest, salt/pepper to taste. Note, that dill can be a strong herb for some. So, go light at first and add more as needed to your taste. Add fresh lemon juice and drizzle with olive oil. I also like to mix in a couple capfuls of balsamic vinegar at the end, but it's not necessary.
- You can serve right away or leave at room temperature until ready to serve. Serve this with grilled lamb kebabs and taziki for a fabulous summer meal!