If you already love mushrooms, well, us too. But if you’re still not sold on eating these fungi, it could be because you haven’t tasted them when prepared for maximum deliciousness. Caramelized mushrooms are savory, chewy and a far cry from the wet and spongy ones found on takeout pizza. Try them for yourself in this caramelized mushroom pasta with crispy prosciutto from Sheela Prakash’s cookbook, Mediterranean Every Day.
“Mushrooms are one of my favorite ingredients to toss into a pasta dish because of how much meatiness they add,” she writes. “Although sautéing them is well and good, here I up both their flavor and texture by caramelizing them.”
That sounds like a fancy technique, but as Prakash explains, it’s quite simple: “To caramelize the mushrooms, sear them in batches to give them the space needed to develop a deep, golden brown crust, which really helps draw out their umami-rich flavor,” she continues. “Add plenty of garlic and thyme to the mix, along with crispy shards of prosciutto for good measure and the result is a savory, earthy pasta that’s easy to love.”
Reprinted with permission from Mediterranean Every Day: Simple, Inspired Recipes for Feel-Good Food, Copyright © 2020 by Sheela Prakash. Published by The Harvard Common Press, an Imprint of The Quarto Group.
Caramelized Mushroom Pasta with Crispy Prosciutto
Servings: 4 servings
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 thin prosciutto slices
2 tablespoons (30mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound (454g) cremini mushrooms, quartered
12 ounces (340g) campanelle, or other short pasta
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon (3g) fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup (60mL) dry white wine
Freshly shaved Parmesan cheese, for serving
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
2. Heat a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add 2 prosciutto slices to the pan in a single layer, and cook until they curl and are lightly browned underneath, about 3 minutes. Flip the prosciutto and let cook until browned on the other side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the prosciutto to a paper towel–lined plate and repeat with the remaining 2 slices.
3. Pour 1 tablespoon (15mL) of olive oil into the pan. Add half the mushrooms in a single layer (try to get as many cut-side down as you can, but don’t stress too much about it), and cook undisturbed until browned well on the bottom but not fully cooked, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon (15mL) of olive oil to the pan and repeat with the remaining mushrooms.
4. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute less than the package instructions for al dente, 8 to 9 minutes.
5. Once the second batch of mushrooms is browned well on the bottom, return the rest of the mushrooms to the pan and add the garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring once or twice, until the mushrooms are fragrant and just tender, about 2 minutes more. Pour the wine into the pan and simmer, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan, until some but not all of the liquid has evaporated, about 1 minute; remove from the heat.
6. When the pasta is ready, reserve ½ cup (120mL) of pasta water with a measuring cup, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta and reserved pasta water to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cook, tossing and stirring, until the pasta is al dente and the sauce thickens and coats the pasta, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
7. Break the prosciutto into small pieces and stir half into the pasta. Serve garnished with the remaining prosciutto and shaved Parmesan.
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