I am sick of ham. Don’t get me wrong, I love ham. Especially ham that’s been baked all afternoon under a crunchy, sweet glaze. But when you eat it for five meals in a row over Easter weekend (because nothing says He is Risen like a ham, apparently), it starts to get old. So Tuesday night I was looking for a ham-free meal that I could prepare in 30 minutes or less with a tantrum-throwing toddler at my feet. Tall order indeed.
Ordering pizza was out (too much cheese), as was picking up the Taco Tuesday special at a fast food place nearby (Tom was working late, and I wasn’t about to wrestle Sweet Pea into the car seat). Sweet Pea requested “noonles,” so I needed a quick pasta dish. But nothing was inspiring me except these dried portabella mushrooms I bought on my last run to the grocery store. Sweet Pea likes mushrooms, but we always seem to have leftovers that go bad in the fridge before we finish them off. I figured keeping dried mushrooms around would save me cleaning time and expense!
So deciding to wing it, I made up this recipe…and it turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself! Using the broth created by rehydrating the dried mushrooms added a lot of flavor to the final dish, and it tastes rich without adding any cream or butter. If you used vegetable stock instead of beef, you could even make this a vegan dish!
The verdict? Sweet Pea loved her “noonles.” She ate two helpings, followed by a slice of her special bunny cake. We’ve been eating that for the past few days as well, but somehow tasty baked goods are not getting old yet. Neither are jelly beans. Oh, well.
Penne with Dried Mushrooms and Peas
1 lb. whole wheat penne
1 c. dried mushrooms (I used dried portabella mushroom slices. If you have diced mushrooms, you may want to use 1/2 to 3/4 c.)
1 1/4 c. boiling water
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. unsalted beef broth (plus more if needed)
2 c. frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste
Place dried mushrooms in a heat-safe container and cover with boiling water. Let the mushrooms sit for 10-15 minutes to rehydrate. Drain (reserve the liquid) and dice the mushrooms. Take the liquid and add enough beef broth to make 1 1/2 cups of liquid total (I needed 1/2 c. beef broth, you may need more).
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and oil. During last three minutes of cooking time, stir in the frozen peas. Drain pasta and peas.
While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, saute until onions are translucent and fragrant but not browned. Add second Tbsp of olive oil, then sprinkle flour on top. Stir to incorporate the flour and create a thick paste. Slowly stir in reserved mushroom liquid and beef broth. Stir until sauce is thickened and slightly opaque; it will coat the back of your spoon if you pick it up out of the pan. Stir in reserved mushrooms, plus salt and pepper to taste. Pour pasta and peas into the sauce skillet and stir to combine. Serve and enjoy! Makes 4-6 main dish servings, or 8 servings as a side dish.