Boosting the texture, taste of pasta

DINNER TONIGHT

January 17, 2007|By Bill Daley | Bill Daley,Chicago Tribune

Quick pasta dishes don't always require tomato sauce from a jar. The olive oil and butter in this recipe provide silky texture and great taste while allowing the flavors of the other ingredients to shine through. That's important in this dish, which highlights the wintry, woodsy flavors so welcome now.

While this dish calls for a little bacon and some fresh-grated parmesan cheese, it also can be vegan. Skip the meat and forgo the cheese.

Bill Daley writes for the Chicago Tribune, which provided the recipe analysis.

Woodsy Mushroom Pasta

Makes 4 servings -- Total time: 33 minutes

1/2 pound spaghetti

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 slices bacon, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 pound fresh shiitake or white button mushrooms, stemmed, sliced

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (see note)

1/2 teaspoon truffle oil (optional)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat a stockpot with salted water; add spaghetti. Cook to al dente according to package directions, about 10 to 13 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat; add bacon. Cook, stirring often, until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes.

Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water; transfer pasta to a large bowl. Pour enough of the pasta water into the mushroom mixture to make a sauce; cook, stirring, to dislodge any flavorful browned bits from the pan, about 1 minute. Stir in butter.

Add mushroom mixture to pasta; toss. Sprinkle with parsley and pine nuts. Drizzle truffle oil over the pasta; toss. Pass the grated cheese at the table.

Note: Toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium heat. Shake the pan occasionally as the nuts brown; don't let them burn.

Per serving: 431 calories, 19 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 23 milligrams cholesterol, 53 grams carbohydrate, 13 grams protein, 197 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber

Menu suggestion

Tossed salad

Woodsy Mushroom Pasta

Italian bread

Lemon cake

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