I’ve decided to start a series of posts featuring some of our favorite vegetarian meals. We have for years found a magnitude of inspiration in Michael Pollan’s teachings. Each one of his books adorns my book shelf, along with a copy of his most recent book Cooked (FANGIRL SIDEBAR:) which I had signed when I met him during his book tour at Harvard University.
For those of you who don’t know, Michael Pollan is one of the worlds most influential authors of the food movement. Possibly his most notable quote-able, “Eat food, Not too much, Mostly plants,” is the main influence behind this idea. It’s only fitting that we’d begin this series with a page out of his book, literally, Page 154. The Pollan Family Table is one of our favorite cookbooks! We hope you find passion in this plate as we have. I promise your belly will thank you.
Penne alla Sherry with Shiitake Mushrooms and Spinach:
The Pollan Family Table Cookbook, Pg.154
Makes 6 servings
1 pound ribbed penne pasta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
4 cups stemmed and sliced shiitake mushrooms, cut 1/4 inch thick
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup dry sherry or red wine vinegar
1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth or water
1 1/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes with juice
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 cups tightly packed fresh baby spinach leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the directions on the package. Drain the pasta and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots and sauté for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and red pepper flakes and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release their liquid. Allow the liquid to evaporate and the mushrooms to become lightly browned, another 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in the sherry or red wine vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the vegetable broth or water, tomatoes, and the sugar. Raise the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the spinach to the sauce and stir until it is soft, about 3 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Add the cream and stir for 2 minutes.
Stir in the pasta and mix, thoroughly coating the pasta with the sauce. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste, transfer to a serving bowl, and serve hot.