Pasta with sauteed mushrooms, spinach, and a creamy blue cheese sauce. If you are looking for umami, you are in the right place!
People have very definite thoughts about mushrooms. Either they hate them or they love them. Usually, there is no middle ground. Two eye-opening experiences with mushrooms changed my opinion of them. Sounds dramatic, doesn't it? Because of the help of other cooks, I learned to love mushrooms.
Mushroom Epiphany #1
As a child, I was never a mushroom eater. The texture and the look threw me off. No amount of cajoling would work. It didn't help that they seemed to be covered in dirt.
Once in college, I was visiting friends in their new apartment. Hungry for a snack, one of my friends sauteed white button mushrooms with some olive oil and garlic. Not wanting to be the obvious picky eater, I hesitantly tried a tiny one. With a coating of garlicky olive oil, the mushrooms became transformed. Hooked, I couldn't get enough. Adding them to any number of recipes, I became a little more experimental and daring.
Mushroom Epiphany #2
As a part of my culinary school program, I worked an internship to get a sense of what would be expected of me in a restaurant setting. Working in a small kitchen under a French chef, I floated to different stations during the duration of the internship.
Checking the day's produce delivery, I saw some chanterelle mushrooms and remarked that I had never seen these before. The chef overheard my conversation and pulled me aside. Taking out a pan, he sauteed the mushrooms in some butter and garlic, added some heavy cream, and stirred until it had thickened. Handing me a plate full, he told me this is what the French eat for lunch. Délicieux champignon!
Making the mushroom and blue cheese sauce
Use any assorted mushrooms you like. Brown them in a saute pan with olive oil, shallot, garlic, and some fresh thyme. Fond will develop on the bottom of the pan. Add spinach and when wilted, pour in the chicken stock, scraping up all the flavorful brown bits.
As a final step add the cream, creme fraiche, and blue cheese. It helps if you use a soft and creamy blue cheese. Adjust the seasoning and add the partially cooked pasta to finish in the sauce. If too thick, use some pasta water to thin the sauce.
Maybe this recipe is enough for you to have your own mushroom epiphany. Having a warm and rich quality like comfort food, the sauce coats the noodles. Savory and full of umami, this mushroom blue cheese pasta is a quick and easy meal. Don't forget the warm bread to soak up the sauce.
Mushroom Blue Cheese
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ pounds sliced mushrooms assorted
- 1 cup shallots sliced
- 2 teaspoons garlic minced
- 3 cups spinach big handfuls
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ⅓ cup creme fraiche
- 4 ounces blue cheese creamy
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound pasta
Making the sauce
- Have a stock pot of boiling water ready for the pasta. Once the mushrooms have started browning in the saute pan, add the pasta to the water. When it is almost al dente, save a cup of the water for the sauce. The pasta will continue to cook when added to the saute pan later in the recipe. Drain and have the noodles waiting for you.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large saute pan over medium high heat. Once hot add the shallots and garlic to the oil, stirring so the garlic doesn't burn. After 3-4 minutes, add the sliced mushrooms and thyme. Don't stir until you see some browning happening on the vegetables, which shouldn't take too long. When the mushrooms are browned, add the spinach. Let it wilt and combine with everything in the pan.
- Next add the chicken stock. Heat until very warm. Add the cream and the creme fraiche. When the sauce is hot, add the blue cheese and stir until melted. Put the pasta in the pan and toss to cover with the sauce. Add the pasta water if you think more sauce is needed. Remove the sprigs of thyme and adjust the seasoning. Once the noodles are al dente, serve in a bowl.