Pappardelle With Mushrooms and Cashew Cream
Fresh mushrooms, dried porcini mushrooms and miso give this pasta dish with cashew cream plenty of umami. Simple and delicious, it works as an appetizer or a main course. The ribbons of red chard add color and texture, and the chard stems add some crunch. Oh, and by the way, it is vegan. Serve sprinkled with plenty of nutritional yeast or (for the nonvegans) Parmesan cheese alongside a big green salad.
Mushrooms build flavor and texture in soups, salads, appetizers, main dishes and sides. Whatever you’re cooking, mushrooms will make it better.
To cook the pasta, fill a large pot with water, place it over medium-high heat and add salt until the water is salty like the sea. When it boils, add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Before draining, reserve 1 to 2 cups of the pasta water. Once drained, rinse the pasta with cold water to stop the cooking. Set the pasta aside.
To reconstitute the dried porcini mushrooms and make the mushroom stock, put the dried porcinis in a medium-size bowl. Pour 2 cups boiling water over the mushrooms; stir to wet and submerge them all. Cover the bowl and set aside for at least 20 minutes. When the mushrooms are fully reconstituted, remove them from the broth and, using your hands, squeeze out the liquid and let it drain back into the bowl. Line a small sieve with a paper towel or coffee filter and set it over a medium-size bowl. Pour the mushroom-soaking liquid through the sieve to filter out the grit. Slice the mushrooms into 1½ to 2-inch pieces. Reserve the mushroom broth and set aside.
To make the sauce, put a single layer of the fresh mushrooms in a large, nonstick pan over medium-high heat and cook, turning as necessary until both sides are seared and well-browned (you may need to work in batches). Remove the mushrooms to a plate or bowl and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium and add the olive oil to the pan. When shimmering, add the shallots and chopped chard stems and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and capers and stir constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sherry and cook until the wine is almost all evaporated, scraping up any bits of mushroom that may have stuck to the pan while searing. Add the caper brine, 1½ cups of the reserved mushroom stock, ½ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water and the miso, stirring to break up the miso. Return the seared mushrooms to the pan, add the sliced porcinis and the chard leaves, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the chard has wilted and the flavors have melded, about 15 minutes. Add the cashew cream and stir to blend. If needed, add more mushroom broth and/or pasta water a little at a time until the sauce lightly coats the back of a spoon and is very pourable. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in most of the parsley, reserving a few pinches for garnish.
Using tongs, add the cooked pasta to the sauce and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently until the sauce has thickened and coats the pasta. If the sauce is too thick, add some mushroom broth and/or pasta water to thin it and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Garnish with reserved parsley and a generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (if using) and serve with nutritional yeast and/or Parmesan cheese on the side and a large green salad.
Soak the cashews in water to cover for at least 30 minutes up to overnight. Drain and discard the water.
Using a blender or food processor, puré.e the cashews with ½ cup of fresh water. The cream should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon but still pourable, a bit thicker than whipping cream. If necessary, add more water to thin.
The dried porcini can be soaked up to 2 days ahead and stored, refrigerated, until ready to use.
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