Wild Mushroom Pasta

I'm a big fan of Good Eats and Alton Brown. I've learned a lot from him. So when he suggested that dried exotic mushrooms were an umani flavor bomb I took to amazon to procure some. 

When you only cook with and eat plants, sources of deep and real flavor are important. 

His advice was spot on. I got a dried exotic mushroom mix and used it in my pressure cooker to create a sauce/broth for pasta and even though I forgot to add olive oil, it still had tons of flavor. 
After the pressure cook was finished I added the oil I forgot and cooked it off for a  few minutes. I then stirred it into my precooked pasta. Let it rest 5 minutes to tighten up. It was a perfect sauce to enrobe my pasta. . 

Dried exotic mushrooms are not cheap. But if you don't eat/cook with animal products, they feel like a bargain. There's so much flavor to be had. It's worth it and then some. 

1/2 box pasta, cooked to al dente

2 ounces dried fancy mushroom mix, big pieces broken or diced
1 pint …

Vegetarian Dirty Rice with Pinto Beans

The knorr dirty rice ingredients either changed or I only just noticed it contains chicken fat.

Zatarrain's dirty rice is vegan/vegetarian as of Dec 27, 2011.

dirty rice I recently tried knorr dirty rice. Interesting flavors. It's definitely vegetarian. And almost vegan. It has some milk (less than 2% of ingredients). So, not a bad choice at all. It also has some interesting flavors. I crave interesting and unique flavor since stopping meat consumption about a year ago.

The trick with rice packets is to add other stuff to them. To bulk them up and to add texture and flavor. You don't want to eat just a bowl of rice. And you don't have to.

1 packet knorr dirty rice mix
1/3 cup frozen cauliflower
1/3 cup frozen mustard greens
1/2 cup canned, rinsed pinto beans

Prepare rice packet as per package directions, adding mustard greens at the same time. When rice/green mix has come to a boil, lower heat and cook at a simmer about 4 minutes more.

Add cauliflower. Cook 3 minutes more. Add beans. Cook 2 minutes longer.

The dirty rice has a very mild cajun spice flavor. It hits the spot when you want something spicy, but not hot.

Adding the mustard greens really livens things up. It can be kale or spinach or turnip greens. But dirty rice deserves some kind of dark leafy green. They belong together.

The cauliflower provides vitamin c and a good crunch. be careful to cook cauliflower as little as possible. vitamin c is diminished with cooking.

the beans are packed with protein and a fair amount of iron. Anyway, rice and beans go together like love and marriage.

All are very inexpensive add ins. the total cost for this dish is probably around $3.00 in the most expensive location. And that $3.00 will yield around 3-5 meals.