Shiitake Mushrooms and Pasta with Pesto
Shiitake Mushrooms and Pasta with Pesto is a dish that has both Asian and Italian influence which may seem like a strange combination but the flavor is rather brilliant. Shiitake mushrooms are often used in Asian dishes along with toasted sesame oil and Chinese 5-spice powder (a combination of cinnamon, star anise, peppercorns, ginger, and cloves although some blends contain fennel instead of ginger) to add flavor while pesto – an Italian sauce with a foundation in olive oil, basil, and nuts – is an Italian favorite whether used in pasta or on a pizza.
In Shiitake Mushrooms and Pasta with Pesto, the vegetables (mushrooms and brussels sprouts) are seasoned and roasted with a bit of toasted sesame oil (a small amount goes a long way) and Chinese 5-spice powder while the pasta is covered in a very light pesto sauce. When combined, the complex flavors all come together for a delicious, creamy, and very satisfying meal.
- Use a wide pasta noodle, if available. Whole grain pappardelle are best but wide fettuccine works too. Community Grains makes a delicious whole wheat pappardelle noodle that is made from grain grown and milled in California and water. High in protein, fiber, and other nutrients, Community Grains Pappardelle is certified organic. This delicious pasta has a robust flavor when cooked, which only takes 6-8 minutes.
- Toasted sesame oil has more flavor than sesame oil because the seeds have been toasted. Most grocery stores sell this toasted sesame oil in the oil or Asian section.
- Baby brussels sprouts are small (about the size of a large piece of popcorn) and very sweet. There are in season late Autumn and Winter. If unavailable in your local grocery store, buy regular-sized brussels sprouts and then trim, cut and quarter into bite-sized pieces.
- Low sodium vegetable broth is a great way to make a healthier sauce. In this recipe the broth is mixed with a quarter cup of pesto.
- Seggiano Basil Pesto Genovese from Italy (below left) but available in most Whole Foods Markets is a delicious raw pesto with no artificial flavors, colors, or additives. Made with olive oil, cashews, basil, sea salt, and pine nuts, Seggiano Basil Pesto Genovese is thick and rich but easily made into a light sauce when blended with vegetable broth (preferably low-sodium). Each 7-ounce jar is expensive – $10 – but worth it. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of pesto which is about a quarter of the jar (again, a small amount goes a long way).
Shiitake Mushrooms and Pasta with Pesto (serves 4)
- 8 ounces Shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and discarded
- 8 ounces baby Brussels Sprouts (or regular sized quartered),with stem trimmed
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-Spice powder
- 1 cup of low sodium vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup prepared pesto (I use Seggiano available at Whole Foods Market)
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 10 ounces Community Grains Whole Wheat Pappardelle Pasta
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place a piece of parchment paper in a roasting pan.
Slice the mushrooms. Place the sliced mushrooms and brussels sprouts in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle a bit of the sesame oil over the vegetables and toss. Drizzle the remaining sesame oil and toss again. Sprinkle the 5-spice powder over the vegetables and toss. Pour the vegetables onto the parchment paper lined roasting pan.
Bake for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are lightly browned and aromatic.
While the vegetables are roasting, place the pesto and vegetable broth in a sauce pan and heat to a boil. Immediately turn the heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer.
Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions (usually 6-8 minutes). Drain the pasta and return the pasta to the large pot. Pour the hot pesto/broth sauce over the pasta and stir to coat. Remove the vegetables from the oven and add the vegetables to the pan and stir to blend. Serve in large pasta bowls.