Mmm. Carbs and cream.

11 May

Hey friends. πŸ™‚

I know, I know – it’s been awhile. Last Saturday was my last day of Illustrator class (I take design classes at a small art & design school here in DC). With a week to complete a final project, and only evenings after work to actually do so, I inadvertently pushed the blog aside to focus. But the project is turned in and class is over (for this semester at least).

So to catch you guys up on things, I did run that 8k I mentioned awhile back. And I ran the whole thing, never had to stop and walk! That was my main goal, to run the entire race, pace myself and get used to running in crowds. I’ll tell you, it felt really great. Really, though, I’m one of those crazies who actually enjoys running. I felt so fulfilled having ran a longer distance than the 5k I did last year, and it affirmed my desire to race and reach even farther distances.

My friend Ed (in the green outfit) and I, about to cross the finish line. Please disregard my mismatched outfit, my good black pants were in the laundry.

So I apologize now if I start talking a lot more about running and fitness. I mean, if I’m going to post photos and recipes of cookies and brownies, I might as well help motivate you guys to burn it all off, right? πŸ˜›

Speaking of foods that are not-so-good-for-you-but-are-delicious-and-somehow-I-justify-eating-because-I-ran-4-miles-today

Cream. I love creamy desserts like pudding and mousse. I like the creamy whatever-it-is inside Cadbury Creme Eggs. I love topping scones with Devonshire cream. And I love cream sauces on pasta. I know this is not a healthy love affair so I try to only take it in doses. Which is hard, though, when throwing together a tasty pasta dish with cream sauce is almost as easy as tossing a salad.

This is another one of my super simple recipes that started off as one recipe and then turned into an idea for an easy dinner solution. I’ve never made a proper alfredo or any other sort of cream sauce, so I wouldn’t exactly say this is anything close to a real Italian dish. But I love that pasta is easy to prepare and works great with all kinds of meats, vegetables and sauces. So it’s my fallback on when I want something that I can experiment with and will still want to eat once completed.

This started when I came across a recipe for creamed mushrooms on toast by the Amateur Gourmet. I admit, I wasn’t really turned on by the idea of mushrooms and cream on a piece of bread, so I opted instead to put the creamed mushrooms on pasta. Slowly, as I made this more and more, I’d take away or add some ingredients, and it has since become a weird fusion of creamed mushrooms and an alfredo sauce.

Yes, I realize how rich that sounds. Β It pretty much is, which is why I’ve delegated this recipe to solo nights when I want pasta, don’t have fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes, and just want to indulge. A lot. After eating this, I’m usually in a happy food coma and I don’t even crave dessert after (shocking!). I also love that ingredients can easily be omitted or replaced – I’ve used macaroni pasta instead of spaghetti with this and it was like a fancified version of macaroni & cheese. I’ve also made this totally vegetarian, without sausage. And I actually don’t miss the sausage at all, because it’s such a filling dish. I’ve also added spinach to the sauce before, making this an even lovelier combo of creamed mushrooms, creamed spinach, and an alfredo sauce. You’l definitely have leftover heavy cream after making it since you don’t need a whole carton. But it probably won’t go to waste. Heavy cream lasts surprisingly long. And if you’re like me, you’ll crave this again soon enough.

Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce (and Sausage)

Ingredients

  • 1 serving of pasta (I prefer whole-grain spaghetti or macaroni, it’s actually the only pasta I’ll use at home!)
  • 1 link sausage (I used spicy Italian chicken sausage, you know, to make me feel like I’m being a little more healthy.)
  • 1/4 sliced medium yellow onion
  • a handful of cremini mushrooms
  • oil or butter (EVOO to be on the healthy side, butter if you want a richer taste.)
  • chopped, fresh thyme (Dried works just as well here.)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream, possibly a little more
  • white cooking wine
  • salt and pepper
  • A 3-fingered pinch of flour
  • 1/2-cup to 3/4-cup of grated cheese (I’ve used Parmesan, Gruyere, and an Italian cheese mix. Any one of these or a combo will work.)
  • Optional: about 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water, spinach

Directions

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Slice the sausage and brown the pieces in a small skillet. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat about 1-2 tablespoons of oil or butter. Add the sliced onions and allow to cook until fragrant and a little soft. Toss in the mushrooms and sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper. Allow the mushrooms to get slightly brown. If you want to add spinach, add it here, otherwise add a splash of white wine. When the wine has evaporated, sprinkle with thyme and toss the mixture. Add the browned sausage and toss together. Add about 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and combine well. This will cook down a bit, so if you want more of an even sauce-to-pasta ratio, add another splash or two of cream. Add the pinch of flour to thicken the sauce and stir. If it’s too thick to your liking, add a little bit of pasta water to thin it out. Depending on how cheesy you want your sauce, add a 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of cheese. Add the pasta (I usually don’t dump the whole serving, I like a lot of sauce to pasta). Toss to coat the pasta with sauce and if desired, top with even more cheese.

So do you have a favorite type of pasta? Tomato-based sauce, or cream-based, what’s your preference?

And if I start writing more about running are you going to stop reading? (I hope not!) πŸ˜›

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5 Responses to “Mmm. Carbs and cream.”

  1. Jenny May 11, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    This pasta dish looks incredible. I love mushrooms paired with pasta. My favorite is Alredo sauce but it’s so calorie hefty!!

    • TheNoviceNosher May 12, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

      Thanks! Yeah, I love Alfredo sauce too but other than when I make this, I try to stay away since it’s not healthy! I think that’s why I generally prefer tomato-based sauces. πŸ™‚

  2. Lhey June 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    Hmmmm, yum yum yum!!! I wanna try and do this!!! Looks so yummy!!! Thanks for the recipe! πŸ™‚

  3. Tommy November 26, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    check out our homage to all things foody http://thenosher.tumblr.com/

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