Thursday, April 17, 2008

Penne with mushrooms and purple sprouting broccoli

Some vegetables do not go very far. Mushrooms, once they have given off their water, shrink dramatically; you need a substantial bunch of purple sprouting broccoli, even if you keep as much of the stalks as possible, to feed several people. Last night, I used the entire bag of mushrooms and the entire bag of broccoli from the vegetable box in a pasta sauce for three -- and the portions of vegetables were not generous. But there was plenty of cream. More than was healthy, no doubt.

I brought my pasta water to the boil, and dropped in my broccoli for just a couple of minutes. Some people insist that you cook green vegetables this way, rather than steaming them: it retains the colour, they claim. I am not sure about that, but I have never given the argument a proper test. In this recipe, though, it is economical to use the water twice. I fished out the broccoli (with a slotted spoon), and transferred it to a colander. I salted the water, and tipped in 375g of penne.

Meanwhile, I had been cooking my sliced chestnut mushrooms with a chopped clove of garlic, a little salt, and a splash or two of olive oil. My normal practice is to wait for the disgorged water to cook off; but that was not necessary here. The mushrooms were not likely to be undercooked. I poured in an entire 284ml pot of Rachel's Organic double cream, and bubbled it for about five minutes, until it had thickened and reduced. With about a minute to go before the pasta was ready, I added the broccoli to the mushroom sauce to warm through.

I drained the pasta, and tossed it with a large knob of butter (our hearts will need a couple of days to recover); I plated it, and served it with the sauce on top.

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