In the Kitchen with Cameron Diaz: Creamy Mushroom Pasta With Garlic and Shallots
A note from Cameron,
I believe that fungi will save the world; we are just scratching the surface of mushrooms’ extraordinary powers. They are high in vitamin D, a good source of food for our microbiome, and are packed with enzymes and minerals. For this dish, we are going to use the typical mushrooms that you can easily find in the grocery store, but that doesn’t mean they’re ordinary! They are delicious, nutrient powerhouses and dare I say, the bomb. This is the perfect dish to serve for a saturday lunch on a winter’s day with friends. Because mushrooms are naturally earthy with their complex umami quality, you’ll find this dish pairs best with Avaline red for richness and depth.
Serves you and 3 hungry friends.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, adding 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. If the water dies down after the addition of the salt, wait for it to come back to a rolling boil. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil In a large pan over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until they start to brown and almost crisp. Reduce heat to medium. Push mushrooms to the edge of the pan, creating an opening in the center.
Add one tablespoon of butter to this open circle in the center of the pan. As butter is melting, drop the chopped garlic directly on top of the butter and let garlic saute. Allow the garlic to become aromatic, but not burnt. Remember that your nose always knows! Start to fold the mushrooms and garlic together, adding a pinch of salt as you mix. Remove mushrooms and garlic from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
Add pasta to the boiling water, and set a timer for 2 minutes less than the package instructions call for. We want the pasta to be a bit al dente. Also, get ready to reserve about a cup of pasta water at the end of the pasta cooking time. Have on standby a pyrex measuring cup or any heat safe measuring cup. In a pinch, I’ll even use a coffee mug. It's also a good idea to have your strainer ready and waiting in a clean sink for you when you are ready to strain the pasta. Oh! And don't forget your oven mitten’s to grab the pot with so you can transfer the pot to sink. I always think it’s a great idea to have all your tools at the ready!
In the same pan over medium high heat, add another tablespoon of olive oil. Once oil is hot, add shallots or red onions. It’s imperative not to add them before the oil is hot—this can make them soggy. Stir shallots or onions as they cook and add a pinch of salt—seriously, just a pinch. Cook until they are translucent.Return your mushrooms and garlic to the skillet and fold together with another tablespoon of butter. Reduce heat to low and simmer. Ok, for real... if your stove runs too hot, just take the skillet off the fire. We know all ovens and stoves are different and have their quirks! Learn ‘em and work with ’em. Remember to reserve a cup of pasta water as you drain your pasta.
After straining the pasta, use tongs to transfer it into the pan with mushrooms, or place pasta back into the pot you cooked it in, depending on how large your skillet is. You’ll need a little room. Over medium heat, add your heavy cream and ½ cup of the pasta water, tossing mushrooms and cream together.
Last but not definitely not least, my finishing touch:
I love to cut my creamy pasta sauces with a squeeze (or two) of lemon. It brings a brightness to the dish that is unexpected, but doesn’t detract from the hearty richness. Serve each dish with a wedge of lemon, and insist your guests squeeze the lemon on the pasta and mix throughout the dish. If you are afraid of the lemon just try it on one bite as a tester bite. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. For me it makes the dish!. I use more than one wedge, that's just my preference. I also like to do a sprinkle of flaky salt like Maldon, and finally finish with a sprinkle of parsley. Sit back and enjoy the creamy texture and the ‘shroomy umami flavors with your organic Avaline red wine.