Bear Makes Brunch: Pretty Pasta Dish

Hello again, Brunch with Bearees! I know, I know, I promised an update and then failed to deliver. However, now I am attempting to get out of the sophomore slump and I thought I should update again—with pictures! While we haven’t been brunching for a while, we did make a fancy but easy pasta dish a couple weeks ago. This pasta is something my aunt taught me how to make last summer, and while it’s a little time-consuming to cook, it’s really delicious and easy to customize.

Pasta is one of those dishes that heats up really well, so I tend to make a large amount and save some for the rest of the week. This particular pasta dish has garlic, mushrooms and parsley in it, and the sauce is olive-oil based. The fun begins when you choose your own pasta shape! My personal favorite for this particular recipe is rotini, or corkscrew pasta. Angel hair or penne also works well! As usual, I got all these ingredients at Trader Joe’s.

Before you start preparing everything else, make sure you get your water for the pasta boiling. Consult your pasta package about ratios, but filling up your pasta pot about halfway to two-thirds of the way is a good marker. I like to add a little salt to the water so that the pasta has more flavor. Keep an eye on the pot, as the cooking process requires a bit of multi-tasking and you don’t want the water to boil over.

While you’ve got that going, you can assemble the garlic, parsley and mushrooms. If you want to use fresh garlic, crush and mince eight cloves—or more, if you, like me, love garlic! If you are lazy and want to use pre-crushed garlic, consult the jar for the proportions of spoon-cloves. Also rinse and mince eight sprigs of parsley. If you like, you can also use a teaspoon of lemon zest. I personally am not a big fan of lemon in pasta, but we like to encourage creativity!

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Somewhere between mincing all the ingredients and putting them on a pan, the water that you previously set to boil will be boiling. Add your pasta, and be certain to stir a few times so that the noodles do not stick together. Set a timer so that the pasta will not overcook; the pasta should actually be a little firm—al dente—because it will be cooked more when added to the sauce. Consult the pasta package for the suggested cooking times.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a frying pan and add three tablespoons of olive oil. Tilt the pan so that the oil distributes evenly. When the oil is hot, carefully add the garlic and the parsley to infuse the oil with flavor. At this point, I like to add a handful of white mushrooms. With the Trader Joe’s pre-sliced mushrooms, about half the package is a good amount. Sauté the mushrooms until they begin to lose their pink color and start turning a little golden. You may need to add more olive oil to fully coat the mushrooms.

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By the time the mushrooms are beginning to brown, the pasta should be ready or nearly ready. Let the mushrooms stay on low heat and check the pasta. You may choose to taste-test a few pieces for consistency and texture. Reserve a cup of the starchy pasta water before removing the noodles from heat. This pasta water will be used later to create the sauce.

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When the pasta is finished cooking, drain the pot into a colander and rinse the noodles with cold water. Rinsing the noodles stops the noodles from sticking together.

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Add the pasta to the frying pan and stir to distribute the olive oil and mushrooms. Add the pasta water that you reserved previously and stir to combine. You can put a lid on the pan if you want the pasta to simmer a little. Keep stirring until all of the pasta is coated with the olive oil sauce.

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At this point, you may choose to add baby spinach, Italian sausage, or other finishing touches. As you can see, I have chosen to add grilled chicken to my pasta.

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This pasta is one of my favorite dishes to cook, and lends itself well to a variety of occasions. I often associate pasta with red sauces—which I love, but it’s nice to have a change every now and then. This a pasta that reheats well, either on the stove or in the microwave, which makes it the perfect dish to make on a Sunday night and eat for the rest of the week. It works a a snack, a side dish, a bed for salmon or chicken. The colors lend itself to entertaining and it can be a great starter dish for a pasta bar. Basically, this pasta is pretty perfect!

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