Last-Minute Substitution

Dinner:  November 10, 2008
We had a busy weekend, but I still took time to sketch out a menu for this week. Since I knew we wouldn’t make it to the farmers’ market last Saturday, we had loaded up on hardier produce on our last visit which we hoped would get us through to the weekend ahead, and I planned out meals accordingly. But you know how it is, sometimes you have something planned and it just isn’t sending you. That was the case when I got home from work Monday night – all I wanted was to sit and chat with Mike and play with Kirby; standing at the counter chopping ingredients for Plan A was the furthest thing from my mind.

So again I will sing the praises of the well-stocked pantry. I pulled out a package of sun-dried tomatoes, a container of dried mixed wild mushrooms, some sherry vinegar, some dry pappardelle, and I set a big pot of salted water to boil. I let the mushrooms soak in hot water until they were soft, then pulled them out and gave them a rough chop, reserving the liquid. I diced up about 5 of the tomatoes and added them to a sauté pan, where a half-cup or so of chopped shallots had been softening in a mixture of butter and olive oil, then added the mushrooms as well. Sage and thyme went in next, then a splash of sherry vinegar, a glug of red wine, and the mushroom soaking liquid, strained through a coffee filter to remove the grit.

The pasta went into the now-boiling water and cooked while the mushroom sauce perked away. I added a small ladleful of pasta water to the sauce and stirred it through, then splashed in a little heavy cream. I pulled the pasta out of the pot when it was just barely tender and finished cooking it in the mushroom sauce, adding a splash more starchy pasta water to loosen it, then I grated in some Parm off the heat. A little fresh parsley, more cheese on top, and dinner was served. I never get tired of pasta dinners and it’s a good thing – they’re the best pinch-hitter around.

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4 thoughts on “Last-Minute Substitution

  1. Madeline Paniagua says:

    Hey Jenn, it’s Madeline from Fish. Last Tuesday I had to put my boy cat Mick (he was 15) down. It was a very sad night for me. My girl cat Bella (she’s 7) seems OK with being the only cat in the house. I, on the other hand, am looking to adopt another one. It was such a surprise to see that you and Mike adopted a kitty. That is just wonderful news for both of you! He is adorable and I wish you all the best with your new little man. Take care of yourself and keep on cooking!

  2. pretty gorgeous for a plan b. usually my plan b is an egg on toast.

    Do you have a favorite dry pappardelle brand? or a good source for dried mushrooms?

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