Dana Treat – Treat Yourself

A Gift Through the Mail

Posted June 24, 2008

Mushroom Pearl Pasta with Sweet Peas and Goat Cheese
Adapted from Wildwood Restaurant, Portland OR

Serves 4 generously

I use a combination of portabello mushrooms and cremini mushrooms in this dish. Be sure to remove the gills from the portabello, otherwise the finished dish will look muddy. To trim fennel, cut off the top part (where the green fronds are), slice it in half and cut out the core. Then remove the outer layer which tends to be tough and bruised. Save the fronds to use as herbs.

1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
2 tbsp. butter

2 cups diced mushrooms

Olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

8 oz. Israeli couscous

Approx. 3 cups of vegetable stock

1/4 cup chopped herbs (I use tarragon and the fennel fronds)

1 cup fresh peas, shelled

4 oz. soft goat cheese

Soak the mushrooms in 1/2 cup of hot water, set aside for 15 minutes to allow them to reconstitute. Place the stock in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Melt the 2 tbsp. of butter in a wide saute pan over med-high heat. Add the mushrooms, a pinch of salt, and allow them to cook until they release their water and start to brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel with a pinch of salt and cook until softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add the couscous and stir to coat it with the vegetables.

Remove the dried mushrooms from the soaking liquid and give them a rough chop. Add their liquid to th
e pot (be careful not to add the grit that collects at the bottom) along with the wine. Stir until the wine is absorbed, then add the mushrooms (the dried and those in the saute pan) and about half of the stock. Stir, as you would risotto, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add the rest of the stock, turn the heat to low, and cover. Stir occasionally.

When the liquid is mostly absorbed, taste and make sure the couscous is done. It should have a nice chewy consistency but not mushy. Add the raw peas, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Crumble in half the goat cheese and give it a good stir. Garnish each serving with a crumble of goat cheese.

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