I have been using a dastardly amount of heavy cream in everything. Coffee – splash of cream. Pie – whipped cream. Fruit – sweetened AND whipped cream. Pasta – cup o’ cream.
I have a officially regressed from my diet of quinoa salads, eggs, oatmeal, and fruits/veggies. Size 2 – it was nice knowing you!
But let’s talk about the shrooms here. People can get downright militant when it comes to mushrooms: Don’t wash them!! Don’t crowd the pan!! Don’t season them too early!! All advice I’ve taken to heart many a time. And as much as I love properly sautéed mushrooms with bits of brown butter speckling the surface and all the right caramelization in all the right places, these mushrooms fare perfectly fine all in one pan, with leeks and all! And not just “fine”. How can I explain to you how well mushrooms and leeks pair without going into a series of clichéd analogies? Let’s try some non-clichés. Mushrooms are to leeks as
- Audrey Hepburn was to Givenchy
- Taylor Swift is to Pork Pie Hats
- Dead white men are to curly wigs and knickerbockers
- Rhinos are to oxpeckers??
Going off on a tangent here. Reign it in, Naureen. Reign it in.
What is key here is to not skimp on the black pepper. Of course the pasta itself, the mushrooms and leeks have to be properly season. But reminiscent of the classical Roman dish, Cacio e Pepe, the flavors of this dish shine with a balanced contribution of Parmigiano Reggiano and Parsley, but with much stronger addition of ground black pepper. This coming from a girl who HATED black pepper growing up. Oh, how we change!
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 leeks, rinsed and sliced (if you don’t have leeks, you can use half a yellow onion, diced, but try to add green onions or chives at the end for that verdant, mild onion flavor)
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2 lb cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, cleaned with a damp paper towel and sliced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
- 1 lb fettucine
- In a large pot, heat 4 to 6 quarts of water over high heat.
- While the water is coming to a boil, prep your veggies. When veggies are cleaned, sliced, and ready, heat oil in a large sauté pan or wok over medium high heat. Add the leeks and cook until tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
- By this point, the water should have come to a boil. Add salt, and a drizzle of oil (fettucine tends to stick together!) and let cook for 12 to 13 minutes (follow the instructions on the box. Barilla is my pasta of choice.)
- Back to the pan: move the leeks off to the sides and add the mushrooms to the center of your pan (or wherever the hot spot is on your burner). Add garlic, salt and pepper (start out with 1/2 tsp each at first). Sauté with the leeks until cooked down and moisture has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Moderate the heat so the veggies don’t burn. Add cream and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add cooked pasta, using tongs to transfer from the pot to the pan. Toss well. Add grated Parmigiano and parsley and combine well. Add up to 1 cup of the pasta cooking water if it’s looking too dry (start out with 1/2 cup). Check for seasoning.
- Serve with an extra grating of Parmigiano and black pepper.