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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dinner Tonight: Portobello Mushroom / Pastina with Ricotta and Peas

I am far from a vegetarian but sometimes its nice to have something for dinner that never had a mother. Tonight I prepared portobello mushrooms with pastina with ricotta cheese and peas. The pastina dish is a nice comfort food on a cold night and the portobello is a formidable substitute for meat.

In case you do not know pastina is probably the smallest pasta you can buy and is primarily used in soups. I brought four cups of water to a boil and added 1/2 cup of pastina. Cook them for five minutes and drain. Reserve some of the pasta water to add to the dish if it dries out. I used frozen peas for this recipe. Frozen peas more so than any other vegetable freezes very well. I actually steamed them over the pasta for five minutes while it was boiling and it worked out pretty good. After the pastina is cooked drain it and add to a large bowl. Stir in the peas, a generous pat of butter and two tablespoons of ricotta cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I had purchased two portobello mushroom caps for this meal. When buying portobellos make sure the caps have no soft spots on them and the have no odor. Mushrooms are primarily made of water and when they start turning they smart smelling rather foul. First step is to gently remove the stem from the bottom of the cap and give it a good wash. I try not to saturate mushrooms when I clean them because the are like sponges and they will take in a lot of water. I usually clean them with a damp paper towel. Place the mushrooms in a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil(not extra virgin). Roll the caps around in the oil so the whole surface from top to bottom is coated. Place the cap topside up and give it a good dose of salt,pepper and thyme. Place in the oven and roast it on 425 for fifteen minutes.


*Portobellos give off a water when cooking they will shrink considerably when cooked. For that reason I try to find large caps.

*Pat the bottom of the mushroom cap before plating to absorb excess liquid.

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