Pasta

Creamy Pasta with Arugula and Mushrooms

Life’s pretty good when one of your biggest problems is that your kitchen is overrun with fresh fruit and vegetables. It seems to happen to me each year during the summer. I’m completely overwhelmed with having to eat, preserve, store, etc. everything in my kitchen. Letting food rot to be thrown in the trash can is NOT an option. Week after week when I pick up my CSA, I have the look of excitement and utter dread. More salad greens? More kale?! MORE CHARD?!!!! OH MAN MOOOOOORE ARUGULA?!!!!??!!!!

You can’t freeze arugula. Or maybe you can, but why would you want to keep it around? I’ve tried to save myself by making arugula pesto, but it wasn’t that fantastic. However, when I found this pasta recipe, I may be overcoming my food aversion to arugula. Why can food aversions occur and how can you tackle them? It’s sad that in our culture, we’re allowed to have food aversions without the threat or risk of malnutrition. But I guess that’s our problem, most Americans are nutritionally malnourished, but overweight. Many people around the world simply cannot be picky with their food otherwise they’d starve. That’s why 80 percent of the world’s population eats insects as a regular source of protein and fat. Meat is difficult to find and often too expensive to eat, but bugs are ubiquitous and life-sustaining.

Most food aversions develop during childhood and often for no legitimate reason. People tend to just be food neophobic–less accepting of new tastes. Moreover, even if you are a supertaster and find coffee or beer or dark chocolate too bitter, you can still train yourself to eat these foods despite their bitterness. Even if you find something disgusting, ewwww, revolting, you should always try more. Flavor preferences are learned, like anything else, and thus simply require a try try again attitude. The success of our species is that we are omnivorous, meaning we can get our nutrition from many many sources. Other extremely successful omnivores are bears and raccoons. Aversion can be reversed, especially if you just put your mind to it, since taste aversion is more a mental block than anything else. How do you overcome food aversions then? Exposure and positive attitude! Positive attitude can easily be achieved by enjoying time in your kitchen with friends and family while laughing and having a good time. Having a positive attitude will affect how you view and taste your food!

Tips & Tricks

Ever cooked mushrooms, but the mushrooms instantly soaked up all the liquid, leaving the bottom of your pan dry and scorched? Happens to me every time. Here’s a couple of things to do to when cooking mushrooms:

  • Use a nonstick skillet when possible.
  • Don’t add the mushrooms until the oil or butter is melted and hot. You should hear a sizzle when you do eventually add the mushrooms. If your fat isn’t hot enough, the mushrooms won’t sauté.
  • Always, always add salt. Salt helps release the juices from the mushrooms, so they’ll sauté.
  • Don’t overcrowd your skillet. You want to be able to spread the mushrooms out in a single layer to maximize their contact with the hot surface.
  • Do not stir or flip the mushrooms while they cook. In fact, I will often set my timer for 3 – 5 minutes and just walk away so I’m not tempted.
  • Cook mushrooms on medium to medium-low heat. The trick is to cook mushrooms at the right temperature so that they don’t instantly blacken because the temperature is too hot, but hot enough that they release all their moisture. You want to hear a gentle sizzling the whole time you’re cooking mushrooms.
  • Pray for a little browning on the bottom of your pan, so you can splash in a little wine to deglaze the pan and caramelize the mushrooms!

Hopefully following some of these tips will improve your ability to cook tender, tasty, and totally succulent mushroom every time.

This recipe, creamy pasta with arugula, was simply a trial by error recipe. I had to find a way to get rid of arugula and not gag two bites into my meal. I LOVE this recipe, because I love mushrooms and goat cheese and I think over time I will soon love arugula. Enjoy, smile, laugh, and have fun!!

Creamy Pasta with Arugula and Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces mushrooms (we used Crimini), stems removed and cut into fourths
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound pasta (we used Fusilli)
  • 4 ounces arugula, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup freshly chopped basil or parsley
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, optional

Directions

  • Bring a large pot of water up to a boil for your pasta. I always add a good pinch of salt and about a tablespoon of oil to my pasta water.
  • In a nonstick pan, melt butter over medium heat.
  • Add in garlic, mushrooms, and salt and toss.
  • Cook mushrooms until they are tender (see cooking tip above).
  • Cook pasta according to package directions, but before draining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
  • I repeat, before draining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
  • While your pasta is draining, return the 1 cup of pasta water back into the pot along with the goat cheese. Bring up to a simmer over medium heat, whisking the goat cheese and water together.
  • Once the goat cheese sauce is simmering, add the pasta, mushrooms, arugula, and basil and toss. Tossing the pasta is important to make the sauce creamy.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve immediately with the option of balsamic vinegar drizzled on at the table.

Notes

  • Spinach can be used in place of arugula.

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