Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bacon and Cremini Mushroom Tagliatelle

In Season
the happiest city in america

Yesterday I paid $1.25 for a soggy bag of red leaf lettuce from Food4Less.  After delicately trying to dry the leaves from the cascade of water misting from the sprinklers overhead, I stored it in the fridge only to find that the next day the lettuce had already wilted and turned into a soppy puddle.

It was a funny occurrence, especially because last week 75 cents at the farmers market bought me a positively massive head of crisp lettuce that made entree sized salads for dinner every night... Oh the price of conveniently going to a chain megamart. 

But if you somehow need convincing that shopping locally is exponentially better than browsing the produce section of your nearby value-chain supermarket, look no further than the weekly San Luis Obispo farmer's market.

 edible jewels

Aside from the stunning quality of the produce at grocery outlet prices, all of the downtown restaurants line up their booths next to all of the produce sellers and hawk whatever they specialize in, whether it be tri-tip sandwiches, homemade tamales, wood-fired pizza, or bowls of strawberry shortcake.  (Though by the time dinner rolls around you're positively stuffed from all of the samples you're allowed to have.)

avila valley barn apples (a.k.a. the only ones I eat now)
There's always some staples I get each week: a pound or two of crunchy apples, a vibrant head of said lettuce, and bunches of grapes that are guaranteed to snap with each bite.  Occasionally if I want to splurge I'll buy a bag of addictively salty garlic pistachios or garlic almonds.

The best part (as cliche as this sounds) is that when you go to the farmer's market you're part of a community... The vendors remember your name each week, strangers take the time to make eye contact and say good evening (something that never happens in L.A.), and for everyone it's just another Thursday night. 

I could get used to this

I finally chose to post this recipe from my daring dinner because to me it's such a cozy autumn dinner... No fuss, simple, and unpretentious (Not to mention the fact that there's some kick ass mushrooms at farmers).

I'm finally starting to get used to making a decent fresh pasta.  What has become one of the banes of my existence is now a fun past time (I'm a dork alright), and there's nothing more therapeutic then turning a powdery volcano of flour, eggs, and olive oil into satiny sheets of toothsome noodles.   

bacon roasted mushrooms

Bacon and Cremini Mushroom Tagliatelle


fresh pasta
 adapted from Mario Batali

3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
4 eggs
a splash of olive oil

the add ins
~1/2 pound of bacon
1 - 1 1/2 pounds of cremini mushrooms, halved
a couple sprigs thyme 
3/4-1 cup of frozen peas
2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley
3/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of cream
salt and pepper

Mound the flour (reserving 1/2 cup or so) in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour, add the eggs. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and begin to incorporate the flour starting with the inner rim of the well. As you incorporate the eggs, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape (do not worry if it looks messy). The dough will come together in a shaggy mass when about half of the flour is incorporated.

Start kneading the dough with both hands, primarily using the palms of your hands. Add more flour, in 1/2-cup increments, if the dough is too sticky. Once the dough is a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up any left over dry bits. Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 3 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Continue to knead for another 3 minutes, remembering to dust your board with flour when necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes at room temperature. Roll and form as desired.

Note: Do not skip the kneading or resting portion of this recipe, they are essential for a light pasta.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Lay the bacon out on a cooling rack over a baking sheet and bake for twenty to twenty-five minutes until crisp.  Reserve some of the drained fat.  Toss the cremini mushrooms and thyme springs in some of the rendered bacon fat, season with salt and pepper, and roast for fifteen to twenty minutes until golden brown.

To assemble the dish, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for 3-5 minutes, until it is slightly undercooked.  Meanwhile heat the cream in a large saute pan.  Add the cooked pasta, along with a cup of the pasta water, the cheese, bacon, mushrooms, and peas.  Toss together and season with salt and pepper.  Add more pasta water if necessary.  

No comments:

Post a Comment