Friday, June 26, 2009

Mmmmm Pasta....

There are a couple favor combinations in this world that are just really meant to be. Chocolate and Mint, Lemon and Butter, Beets and Goat Cheese, Avocado and Cilantro, etc. I can name about 20 more but I want to focus on a combination I use over and over.... Asparagus and Mushrooms. I don't know what it is but I crave these two veggies together. There is just something so comforting about the earthiness of a firm Mushroom and the crispy green taste of an asparagus.
Mushrooms are the vegetarians answer to meat. They are dense and grill up very well. They absorb flavors beautifully and there are so many kinds to experiment with. I'm obsessed with the meaty Shiitake. They are gorgeous brown on the outside and spongy white inside. I LOVE slicing them up and throwing them in Asian soups or searing them in olive oil, Italian parsley and garlic for a simple side dish.
I grew up in the East Bay suburbs of San Fransisco ( Lafayette and Danville ) and being a native Californian I took for granted the large variety of agriculture in my home state ( until I moved to the tropics ). The abundance of locally grown produce seemed "normal" because this is all I knew. I've learned that it's not like that everywhere....
I am terrified of airplanes ( still am ) and for years my parents would have to shuffle my sister and I between my father's Los Angeles beach house and my mother's northern California home because I simply refused to fly. So, about 4 times a year we made the 6 hour trek up and down California's Highway 101. When we were not hugging the beach we were winding through California's fertile farmlands. Places like, Gilroy-"The Garlic Capital of the World", Monterrey County with it's proud almond and apple orchards, the San Luis Obispo Wine Country, the world's strawberry capital in Oxnard, the gourmet banana plantations in La Conchita and finally Greenfield, CA where the best Asparagus on the planet grows.
Asparagus was just about the only veggie I LOVED as a kid and I still relish it. It's bright, it's springtime, it's California and nothing compliments my most favorite veggie like the hearty mushroom. I love pairing the two in Risotto, Soups and Pasta. Here is a simple recipe I threw together the other night.


1 LB Dry Pasta cooked until al dente in salted water
1 large bunch of very fresh Asparagus, woody ends snapped off and cut into 1" pieces
2 Cups Shiitake Mushrooms sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
Juice and Zest of one lemon
Olive oil
Shaved Pecorino Romano ( or omit for Vegans )

Place 1 TB olive oil in large nonstick on med heat
place sliced mushrooms in pan and DO NOT MOVE until golden brown on the bottoms. Add minced garlic and saute until mixed. Sprinkle with salt and cracked pepper. Add asparagus. saute about 2 minutes. DO NOT OVER COOK ASPARAGUS. This is KEY! Asparagus should be bright green when done and still a bit crispy. Add Mushrooms and Asparagus to cooked/drained pasta. Toss with Lemon juice and Zest. Add as much shaved cheese as you like ( Crumbly Feta Cheese goes great with this too! )

200 AB Crunches

Weight 106.6 Lbs

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