Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Magic" mushroom papardalle

This month's VEGAN CHALLENGE comes in the form of a hearty pasta with creamy sauce… We’ll call it Pappardelle alla Boscaiola – that's Woodsman's Pappardelle for the no-speaka-Italiano readers.

A creamy vegan pasta? But how is this possible, you ask. Well, it’s all due to a mysterious product called Oatly Cream, which is “pouring cream” made from OATS (I have no idea – it was on the ‘reduced to clear’ table at the health food shop near work; it’s safe to say you will never find this on your local supermarket shelf). I have tried a soy pouring cream from Alpro and to be honest I can’t remember how that one compares, but this oaty one worked a treat.

To ensure vegan status, avoid any fancy pants fresh pastas that contain egg – the standard dried varieties should only contain durum wheat. That said, go for an authentically Italian brand rather than the cheapest home-brand options, as these tend to have a longer window of opportunity for obtaining ‘al dente’ texture. It’s a case of ‘blink and you’ve got sludgy noodles’ with the really cheap ones.

3 shallots, sliced finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
3 x super big fat field mushrooms, sliced then chopped into little pieces
25gm dried porcini mushrooms, steeped in boiling water in small bowl for 20 minutes
Decent slosh of white wine (let’s say 1/3 large glass; let’s agree I really wasn’t taking notice of quantities when I was onto my second glass in the kitchen)
½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
250gm Oaty cream (or other non-dairy alternative)
½ cup grated parmesan – clearly this is not vegan, so don’t dump it in the sauce before serving or you’ve pretty much just ruined the meal for your vegan diners. For the non vegans amongst us, go crazy with the parmesan – especially if it’s expensive and authentic reggiano parmeggian.
500gm pappardelle (the extra width works much better than standard spaghetti; alternatively, the farfalle ‘bow tie’ noodles work a treat)

1. Boil a big pot of water for the pasta.
2. Put the chopped fresh mushrooms in a big bowl, and tip the rehydrated porcini mushrooms and mushroom-infused water onto them. Leave to sit while you sautee the shallots and garlic in olive oil (a heavy based saucepan would be ideal, but a wok works fine if you keep an eye on the heat and keep stirring).
3. Add the mushroom mix to the pan and stir on high heat.
4. Toss in the wine and once it’s all started bubbling furiously, reduce to simmer.
5. Add half a handful of parsley. As long as it doesn’t reduce too much, you can leave this on low heat for 10-15 mins, while you cook the pasta.
6. Stir the oaty cream into mushroom mix.
7. Drain pasta when al dente, return to pot and stir through sauce.

Postscript: Heated up for lunch the next day, a lot of the initial "creaminess" had kind of disappeared... Alledgedly sucked up into the pasta. A bit the same as when I've used soy dairy substitutes in a lasagna white sauce. Moral of the story: cook and eat straight away.

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