non-wild mushrooms

here's a challenge for you: try finding wild mushrooms (or cremini mushrooms) during the evening rush on a wednesday in hammersmith. not easy! i only had four things on my shopping list as i made my way home yesterday - wild mushrooms, parsley, chopped tomatoes, and garlic. my first attempt didn't go so well - they didn't have any mushrooms and they didn't have any parsley! so i carried on my journey and hit up my local convenience store instead. more expensive, but desperate times call for desperate measures. and while i still couldn't find some decent wild 'shrooms, i made do with the chestnut variety instead and dinner was salvaged.

both parts of our meal last night came from vegan italiano, a nice little recipe book that i've used before. one thing about this book that some people HATE is that there are no photos. but i kind of like it that way. it means you aren't trying to recreate (visually) something - rather you have to get creative and just go based on descriptions. that's refreshing, i think. my plates almost never look like the professional photographs in a cookbook! at least this way i'm not disappointed if it didn't turn out picture perfect. thank you, donna klein!

penne with mushrooms and peas

we used brown rice penne - so far my favourite type of gluten-free pasta. yes it got VERY sticky once cooked, and yes it broke into pieces a little bit when stirred with the sauce. but it had a great consistency and didn't taste "fake".

the particulars:

  • olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 package wild mushrooms, thinly sliced (i used chestnut mushrooms and took their stalks off first)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen garden peas
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of red chili flakes (optional)
  • 6 ounces penne (or other short tubular pasta), cooked according to package directions and drained
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  1. in a large pot, heat the oil and cook the onion, stirring until softened.
  2. add the mushrooms and cook for another minute. add the can of tomatoes, the peas, salt, pepper, and red chili flakes (if using). bring to a brisk simmer over medium-high heat.
  3. reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture has formed a somewhat thick sauce.
  4. add the pasta and toss to combine. serve with the parsley leaves on top.

wilted spinach with garlic and pine nuts

as shown in the photo above

the particulars:

  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 bag washed spinach leaves
  • salt and pepper
  1. heat a large skillet over medium heat. add the pine nuts and cook until lightly toasted and fragrant (about 3 minutes). immediately remove from skillet and set aside.
  2. add the oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat. add the garlic and lemon juice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. add the spinach and increase the heat to medium-high. cook, tossing constantly, until the spinach is just wilted.
  3. remove from the heat and add the pine nuts, salt and pepper. toss well to combine and serve at once.

lesson learned: we made WAY too much of the pasta last night so i have some delicious leftovers today. it was a great little dish, super quick to make, and the spinach was fantastic as well. consider it added to the repertoire.