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 …

Cucumber Salsa

I was in the mood for summer, even though mother nature is still not ready to comply. Crisp cucumbers in a spicy dressing with lime and ginger make you feel like summer even when it's still snowing outside.

2 large cucumbers, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 can kidney beans rinsed thoroughly, reserve 1 tbl of the can brine
2-3 handfuls cilantro
1 jalapeno, diced
1 serrano, diced

2 limes, zest and juice
2 tbls white vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbl kidney bean can juice
1-2 tsps Louisiana hot sauce
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 inch ginger, grated
1 tsp sugar
2 tsps salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp crushed pepper flakes

In a bowl add all the dressing components except for the oil. Whisk in the oil slowly until emulsified.

Add salsa ingredients to the prepared dressing and stir to coat everything.

I deseeded the cucumbers before dicing, but that is personal preference.

I like a lot of heat, but you can use half a jalapeno and half a serrano to tone it down some. I don't recommend using one jalapeno and eliminating the serrano. Different kinds of hot peppers help create a depth of spice instead of just a single note of heat.

Cilantro measurements are a general guideline. Add cilantro to taste. I like a lot of that too, but for some people a little goes a long way. I like to add a nice bunch and then taste to decide if I want to add more. Also, keeping in mind that the flavors will intensify some after resting and chilling.

Allow to rest in the fridge for a few hours.