Shiitake Mushroom and Pesto Linguine with Spinach

I love mushrooms so much, that this recipe uses two kinds in this dish: your workaday standard creminis and somewhat-exotic shiitakes. These umami vessels are joined by healthy spinach, savory sun-dried tomatoes, and herbaceous, flavor-eous pesto. It’s all twirled together with pasta that makes for an easy-peasy, maximum flavor meal just when you need it.

 

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 oz. Cremini Mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch
  • 3 oz. Shiitake Mushrooms, stemmed and sliced 1/4 inch
  • 1 Shallot, peeled and thinly sliced.
  • 4 oz. Baby Spinach
  • 5 oz. Linguine
  • 1 oz. Julienned Sun-Dried Tomatoes
  • ¼ cup Basil Pesto (See Cook’s Notes. Recipe Follows Below.)
  • 1 small plum or Roma tomato, sliced
  • 1 oz. Shredded Asiago Cheese
  • Salt  and Ground Black Pepper, to taste

 

Directions:

Bring 8 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil in a medium pot. Once water is boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente, 9-11 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta in a colander. DO NOT RINSE THE PASTA. Set aside.

While pasta cooks, brown mushrooms. Place a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cremini mushrooms, and shiitake mushrooms to the hot pan. Stir occasionally until well-browned, 4-5 minutes.

Add shallot to pan. Stir occasionally until tender, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the spinach reserved pasta cooking water, sun-dried tomatoes, a pinch of salt salt, and ¼ teaspoons black pepper. Cook until spinach wilts, 2-3 minutes.

Add the pasta and pesto to pan and stir to combine.

To serve, add the finished pasta to a large bowl, garnishing with Asiago and sliced tomatoes.

 

Bon appétit!

 

 

 

Cook’s Notes:

Pesto is a mouthful of bright brightness. You can buy it in a jar or in the refrigerator section of your grocery story, but there is nothing better than making it yourself. Fresh basil can be found in abundance at farmers’ markets in the summer. Just clean, take the stems off and throw the leaves in a food processor with nuts and garlic. Dribble in the oil and you’ve got a versatile sauce for pasta, chicken or fish.

Yields 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (no stems)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

 

Directions:

  1. Combine basil leaves, pine nuts or walnuts and garlic in a food processor and process until very finely minced.
  2. With the machine running slowly dribble in the oil and process until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Add the cheese and process very briefly, just long enough to combine. Store in refrigerator or freezer.

 

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Spinach Salad with Pears and Gorgonzola

 pear salad.jpg

 

Pears with gorgonzola is  just one of those classic combinations. Put them in salad with any kind of greens. Pick what you like best, anything from a spicy arugula or watercress to a mild butter lettuce.We used fresh baby spinach.The same goes for the pears: Bosc, Bartlett, Anjou or Comice would all be great choices.

And since the ingredients in this pear salad are so delicious, a champagne vinaigrette with a hint of lemon juice and Dijon mustard worked best for this salad. A heavy dressing would mask the delicate flavors.  A sprinkling of cheese, walnuts and  pomegranate arils also adds flavors and makes for  delicious lighter first course to start off a meal.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 tablespoons minced shallot
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
10 ounces baby spinach, washed and dried
4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese*
1 medium Bosc pear, cored and thinly sliced*
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (arils), for garnish
1/2 toasted walnuts, roughly chopped, for garnish

Champagne Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
For the Salad:
In a large bowl, add shallot,  salt and pepper. Add the olive oil, whisking constantly while drizzling the oil slowly. Add the spinach and toss with tongs until the leaves are well coated.

For Champagne Vinaigrette:
In a small bowl or glass jar, add all the ingredients except the olive oil. Mix well, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil  and whisk until the mixture is emulsified. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve, evenly divide spinach greens between 4 salad plates. Top each plate with cheese and garnish with pear slices, pomegranate seeds, and walnuts and serve with a drizzle of champagne vinaigrette.

*Cook’s Notes:
You can substitute Blue cheese or Roquefort cheese for the Gorgonzola.
Any variety of apple can also be used as a substitute for the pears.

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Roasted Pork Loin Stuffed with Prosciutto, Spinach, Apples and Apricot Preserves

pork.jpgServes 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 bunch baby spinach, washed and trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (2-lb.) pork loin, trimmed
4 ounces very thinly sliced prosciutto
1 Honey Crisp apple, cored and sliced into 1/8 inch
1/2 cup apricot preserves
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup Japanese Panko Breadcrumbs
Pomegranate nibs, for garnish

Directions:
Saute the spinach in a hot skillet 3 minutes; plunge into an ice bath for 1 minute. Drain well. Wrap spinach in paper towels; squeeze dry. Chop spinach into small pieces. Place in bowl with 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and garlic; stir well.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Cut into pork loin lengthwise from right to left, 3/4 inch from bottom, keeping knife parallel with cutting board; do not cut through the other side. Continue slicing lengthwise from right to left, unrolling loin as you slice, to form a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle. Season with remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt.

Arrange prosciutto in layers to cover inside of loin. Add apple slices. Spread the apricot preserves over the apples. Spread the spinach mixture on top, leaving a 1-inch border. Roll pork up left to right. Tie with twine in butcher’s knots at 2-inch intervals.

Lightly dust the loin with flour. Roll in breadcrumbs, pressing lightly to make sure the crumb coating adheres.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Place loin in pan; cook 12 minutes turning until all sides are browned. Place loin on rack; cover loosely with foil. Roast at 325°F for 50 minutes or until meat registers 150°F. Remove pork from pan; let pork stand 20 minutes. Swirl butter into pan juices until butter melts. Cut pork into 3/4-inch slices garnish with nibs and serve.

Cook’s Notes:
Click on this link for a quick tutorial on: “HOW TO CUT AND TIE A PORK LOIN FOR STUFFING”  

You can substitute the spinach for broccoli rabe seasoned for a change of pace.

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