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January, 2012

Penne with Porcini Mushrooms and Fried Sage
By Heidi Allison

You’ll get the best results if you use good quality ingredients – Italian (not Chinese) porcini mushrooms, unsalted butter and fresh sage.

Don’t have time to get to the market, or too tired to cook? Toss Penne Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms and Fried Sage for a simple, affordable gourmet meal that works equally well as a quick weeknight dinner or a savory side dish. Since this dish is also light on calories and fat, it’s a perfect choice if you’re watching your weight after the holidays. And, this dish travels well and tastes great served warm or at room temperature! Try it at your next potluck dinner or, pack last night’s leftovers for an easy grab-and-go lunch.

You’ll get the best results if you use good quality ingredients – Italian (not Chinese) Porcini Mushrooms, unsalted butter and fresh Sage. Since there are only five ingredients in this dish, every flavor note counts. And, this simple dish is technique-driven—the penne releases its starch and absorbs the concentrated porcini mushroom stock by constantly shaking the pan in a back and forth motion during the cooking process. In the finished dish, the penne takes on a rich, glistening brown color, and will be moist, but not swimming in sauce. If you love the taste and texture of risotto, but hate the requisite 40 minutes it takes to prepare it, this is your new go-to dish. You can get this recipe to the table in half that amount of time!

Penne with Porcini Mushrooms and Fried Sage
Serves: 2

Ingredients:
8 ounces Penne Pasta
½ cup Porcini Mushrooms
1 cup Hot Water
6 fresh Sage Leaves
2 tablespoons Canola Oil
1 teaspoon Unsalted Butter
1 teaspoon Pure Olive Oil or Canola Oil (do not use a Fruity Olive Oil)

Preparation:
Place 1 cup of water in a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup and heat till hot, but not boiling – about 1½ - 2 minutes. Add porcini mushrooms and stir; then cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Heat 4 quarts of water in a large stockpot till water comes to a rolling boil. Add 1 tablespoon of Kosher flake salt and pasta, and then stir gently with a wooden spoon. Return to a boil and cook for approximately 9 minutes. Remove a penne piece and cut in half to test if it’s done—if no white line appears, pasta is cooked to al dente stage. Remove pasta from heat and place into a mesh strainer, then shake off excess water and set aside. (Do not rinse).

Place one tablespoon of oil into a small nonstick skillet and heat on medium, heat till hot. Add sage leaves and fry till color turns a dark green; then turn over with tongs and fry the other side. Remove sage leaves from pan and place on a paper towel to drain.

Add butter and oil to a medium, nonstick skillet and place on medium heat till melted and lightly sizzling. Add porcini mushrooms and mushroom broth, and reduce liquid to about half, shaking the skillet constantly in a back and forth motion. Add drained pasta and continue to constantly shake pan in a back and forth motion until pasta absorbs the mushroom broth (the pasta will look moist, have a beautiful sheen, and take on the color of the brown porcini stock). Remove from heat and place pasta on serving plates. Crumble fried sage over pasta and serve.

Cook’s Notes:
This dish travels well, and can be reheated in the microwave till warm with great results. Fabulous dish for potlucks or served as a savory side with roast chicken!