Thursday, April 3, 2014

Armoniche Mushrooms

I grew up in a town surrounded by mountains. There was something very serene about staring at them. I always felt there was a story lurking inside them and weaved my own in my fun make believe world. When it rained, these tiny little waterfalls emerged in between the mountains making them look spectacular. I grew up taking that view for granted, If I had any inkling of how much I am going to miss that view, I would have cherished it lot more. Apart from the spectacular waterfall views, rain also brought in lots of mushrooms. I used to be ecstatic about them. Back then we didn't eat mushrooms, they were these fun little things that popped up during the rain. For the longest time I used to think rain was magical bringing in the waterfalls and mushrooms. Eventually I got more curious and learnt that mushrooms need only two things to grow, lots of dead organic matter and moisture. The yard probably had lots of organic matter and the rain just triggered the process.

I got married, moved countries and had my first bite of the fungus. It was love at first bite. They were no longer the magical creatures emerging from rain. Over the years, I learnt  to cook with  them in various dishes, experiment them with the spices I am familiar with and even cooked mushrooms with the quintessential lentils. 

A couple of days back the little guy saw a pack of pasta that looked very intriguing. Its called the armoniche-pasta. It had little wavy ridges and a cylindrical core. The wavy ridges are supposed to resemble a harmonica. 

I felt this new found armoniche needs to treated in a royal way. Just tossing them in some regular sauce was not very appealing. I decided to wait until some sort of inspiration cooks up in my brain and then it happened - the rain. Rain brought back all those memories of waterfalls and mushrooms and I knew instantly that mushrooms and armoniche was a match made in heaven and cannot go wrong.

I used cremini mushrooms in this recipe. Keeping it simple I oven roasted cremini mushrooms with onions and tossed them with the armoniche in a  garlic olive oil sauce.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chop 3 cups of cremini mushrooms and 1 medium sized onion into bite size pieces.

Add a tsp of cumin powder, coriander powder, black pepper, red chili powder, red pepper flakes, salt and olive oil.

Roast them in the oven for 30 - 40 minutes.

While the mushrooms are roasting cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.
Add a tsp of olive oil and salt to the water while cooking the pasta. This keeps them from sticking together.

Keep aside around 1/2 a cup of the pasta water to add to the sauce. The starch from the pasta water does help to thicken the sauce.

For the sauce-

Add 3 tsp of olive oil to a hot pan.

To the hot oil add 4 cloves of garlic, 1 green chili, 1 tsp of turmeric powder and 1 tsp of dried mint leaves.

Let them all get cozy in the oil. Keep an eye on the garlic. Burnt garlic does not taste good.

Once the ingredients are roasted in the oil - after about a minute or two, toss in the pasta, 1/2 cup of pasta water and cook them for about  2 -3 minutes.

Add the oven roasted mushrooms and onions and turn off the heat.

Give a chance for the armoniche and mushrooms to get acquainted and dig in.

Nostalgia is beautiful and if it inspires a dish like this I am all for it. Watching the rain, reminiscing about the mushrooms and looking at the little guy gobbling the pasta with mushrooms made me realize - life is a fairy tale, you live, experience and cherish each moment.

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