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Seriously Simple: A dish to celebrate love

Diane Rossen Worthington, Tribune Content Agency on

Valentine’s Day can sometimes be a challenge for the cook. Do I do a three-course dinner with a rich chocolate dessert or a one-dish favorite that respects the season and feels celebratory? This year, I will be reintroducing a former tradition: fresh pasta in a rich, velvety mushroom sauce. I love that it is full of an earthy, almost meaty flavor and is satisfying as a main course

The growth of the California mushroom industry in recent years has been truly striking. We now have varieties of all the world’s great fungi, from Japan’s shiitake and shimeji oyster mushrooms, to the famous French varieties: morels and chanterelles. And recently the first black truffle was harvested in Sonoma.

Use whatever seasonal mushrooms you can obtain, since the real excitement in this recipe comes from the mixture of fresh mushrooms. Most markets have fresh pasta. I think it adds a delicate note to this wintery dish.

Sometimes I add an ounce of dried porcini or morel mushrooms for an even richer mushroom flavor. If you want to do this, pour boiling water over the dried mushrooms, and let them soften. Once softened, drain them through a fine strainer to remove any grit, coarsely chop them and then add them to the mushroom sauce. You can add the mushroom liquid to the sauce.

Begin your meal with a simple green salad with slices of red radishes and bright red cherry tomatoes. For dessert, how about your favorite store-bought brownies, topped with coffee ice cream and a drizzle of hot fudge sauce? Seriously Simple? You bet.

This is what I’ll be doing to celebrate Valentine’s Day with my husband. And just remember, this can be a day to celebrate your love with a dear friend, sibling, child or even your parents, I think of it as a day to celebrate love in whatever way you like. Enjoy this luxurious dish (if made with cream) with a glass of chardonnay or pinot noir; (if made without cream,) serve cabernet sauvignon or zinfandel.

 

Pasta with Fresh Mushroom Sauce

Serves 2 to 3 as main course or 4 to 6 as first course

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

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