| Ellie Krieger |
WASHINGTON (WP-BLOOM) – Mushrooms give a meaty heartiness and deep, savoury flavour to dishes in a healthful way. You might be surprised to discover just how healthful.
The fungi don’t make it onto most typical produce “top 10” lists because those tend to focus on vitamins A and C and the rainbow colours. But that omission is the fault of the yardstick, not the subject.
Mushrooms shine brightly as nutritional stars in many other areas. Just six medium-size white button mushrooms have more riboflavin (a B vitamin) than a cup of milk and nearly as much potassium as a small banana. Mushrooms are loaded with essential minerals including selenium, copper and zinc. Plus, varieties such as shiitake and maitake have multiple anti-cancer and immune-boosting properties.
Feel free to bring up those fun facts at dinner to break the pleasure-induced silence that is sure to grace your table as everyone digs into this sumptuous pasta dish.
In it, a mix of fresh mushrooms teams with dried porcinis to provide layers of earthy flavours that pair perfectly with the slightly nutty, rustic texture of the whole-grain penne.
Fresh thyme and parsley add colour, aroma and a floral note, and a generous sprinkle of cheese seals the deal for a full-bodied, comforting winter’s meal.
Whole-Grain Penne With Mushrooms and Herbs (6 servings)
MAKE AHEAD: The dish can be refrigerated for up to three days. Reheat over low heat with a little added water or broth.
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms, such as cremini, oyster, chanterelle and/or portobello, thinly sliced
1 cup no-salt-added beef broth or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
12 ounces whole-grain dried penne
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Boil a kettle of water.
Put the porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with about 1 cup of boiling water. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, then drain, reserving the liquid. Chop the rehydrated mushrooms.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the fresh mushrooms; cook for about 10 minutes or until they have released their moisture.
Add the broth, the rehydrated, chopped porcinis and their soaking liquid, the thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.
Increase the heat to medium-high; once the liquid starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 20 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to form a slightly thickened sauce.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt, then the pasta. Cook according to the package directions. Drain.
Return the pasta to the pot; add the mushroom sauce and the 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, tossing to incorporate. Taste, and season with more salt and/or pepper as needed.
Divide among individual wide, shallow bowls. Garnish with parsley and more cheese.
*Nutrition (per serving): 320 calories, 13g protein, 49g carbohydrates, 10g fat, 2g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 290mg sodium, 8g dietary fibre, 5g sugar