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 …

Creamy Lemon Basil Lentils

I'm on a mushroom binge lately. Totally obsessed with different ways to combine them with other flavors and find all their earthy potential.

It's pretty amazing how something as humble as the mushroom can be the star of so many wildly different dishes.

Chicken piccate was my inspiration, but obviously some tweaks were required to meet my standards. I also played a little fast and loose with the rest of the traditional piccata. Just using the general idea as a jumping off point for something lemony, spicy and a little bit creamy.

1/2 cup dry lentils
1 cup frozen peas
3 cups white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 jalapeno, sliced
1/2 a serrano, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced

3/4 cup white wine
2-4 cups water
1/4-1/2 cup half and half or cream
1 tbl spicy mustard
2 tbls butter
1 tbl olive oil
2 lemons, zest and juice

2 tsps dry basil
2-3 tsp salt
1-2 tsp black pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet with deep sides on medium high. Saute mushrooms with 1 tsp salt until lightly softened and mildly darkened. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic, jalapeno, serrano, 1 more tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper. Cook 3 more minutes. Add wine and mustard. Stir to incorporate. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Add lentils and 2 cups water. Cover and simmer until lentils are just about tender. Add more water as needed to cook lentils. When lentils are almost tender add enough water to give a generous amount of sauce in the pan. The sauce/liquid should come about 1/3 up the sides of the pan.

Uncover. Add basil and lemon juice. Cook 2 more minutes.

Lower heat to medium low. Add butter. Stir to melt and combine. Taste. Add more salt and pepper if desired.

Add parsley, peas and half and half. Add 1/4 cup half and half at first. This will yield a light sauce with a touch of creaminess. Add more if a richer sauce is desired.

Raise heat to medium. Simmer 3 minutes stirring to combine.

Turn off heat. Finish with lemon zest and some more uncut parsley leaves.