Don’t take a decade to try this recipe.
I clipped this Baked Mushroom Linguine out of “Martha Stewart Living” in February 2001. I made it for the first time today.
What took me so long? Well, it looked like a lot of trouble to go to for baked pasta. You weren’t just mixing spaghetti with tomato sauce, sprinkling it with cheese, and throwing it in the oven. You had to sauté and simmer and rehydrate and make a bouquet garni.
Still there? Good.
I finally made it because the things I needed started coming to me from out of nowhere. Jeff brought home some pecorino. Mom gave me the dried mushrooms. My friend Karen Beth sent me a huge roll of cheesecloth for the dreaded bouquet garni. Somewhere in Connecticut, I’m sure Martha was waving a jadeite wand and softly humming “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.”
There is something magical about this dish.
Taken separately, the components don’t seem all that impressive: linguine, sauteed mushrooms, cream sauce, cheese. Even the “bouquet garni” is just a few twigs of fresh thyme and rosemary wrapped in cheesecloth. (If you didn’t have cheesecloth, you could use a coffee filter. Our secret.)
But when they come together, you get the kind of meal that can turn a wrong day right. A warm plate filled with pasta that’s been tossed with three kinds of mushrooms, a buttery cream sauce infused with rosemary and thyme, and big handfuls of freshly grated pecorino. It’s the kind of meal you can just sort of sink into on a day when everything sucks and wind up thinking that maybe things aren’t so bad after all.
A meal worth waiting a decade for. But don’t.
Baked Mushroom Linguine
Adapted from “Martha Stewart Living” (February 2001)
Serves 10 to 12
- 4 ounces dried mushrooms, such as porcini or chanterelle
- 4 cups boiling water
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 2 teaspoons finely chopped
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter (to lighten, reduce to 2 tablespoons)
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour (to lighten, reduce to 2 tablespoons)
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream (to lighten, replace with 1 1/2 cups 1% milk plus 4 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese)
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 pound button mushrooms, stems removed, quartered
- 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
- 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound linguine
- Unsalted butter, for pan
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
- To Prep the Dried Mushrooms: Place dried mushrooms in a bowl, and pour 4 cups boiling water over them. Let them sit for 30 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, lift out the mushrooms, and place them in another bowl. Press mushrooms to release any retained stock, and pour liquid back into bowl; set mushrooms aside. Strain mushroom liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with a paper towel. (You should have about 4 cups of mushroom stock.)
- For the Bouquet Garni: Wrap rosemary and thyme sprigs in cheesecloth, and tie with kitchen twine. Set aside.
- To Make the Cream Sauce: Place a large saucepan over medium heat, and melt 5 tablespoons butter. When the butter starts bubbling, add the flour. Cook, stirring, until the mixture begins to brown, about 3 minutes.
- Still whisking, slowly pour in the mushroom stock. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
- Stir in the cream and the reserved bouquet garni. Reduce the sauce to a gentle simmer, and cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If you use the “lighter” ingredients, reduce the simmering time to 20 minutes.)
- For the Mushroom Filling: Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.
- Add onion, and cook until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes.
- Add button mushrooms, and cook until they release their juices.
- Add shiitakes, reserved mushrooms, and 2 teaspoons chopped thyme, and cook until all are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add cream sauce to skillet, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
- To Prepare the Pasta: Boil the pasta according to the manufacturer’s directions, but reduce the cooking time by 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the noodles to a colander, and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
- Stir the noodles into the mushroom mixture, and transfer to your prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with grated cheese, and bake until browned on top and mixture is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes before serving.