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DSCN0646Inspired by a delicious, couldn’t-stop-eating-it pasta salad from a catered lunch event, I decided to create a creamy pasta dish based on 2 hero ingredients – Leeks and Mushrooms.

Leeks have long been one of my favorite ingredients to work with. Sweeter and more subtle than its onion cousin, leeks add depth and complexity to any dish with its delicate, buttery flavor and silky texture.  And there’s nothing more mouth-watering than the hearty flavor of earthy mushrooms to whet your appetite. For my adaptation, I decided to braise the leeks and mushrooms in broth and red wine, and complete the dish with a creamy tarragon sauce for a French twist.  Tarragon, next to Basil and Cilantro, is one of my favorite herbs. Its aromatic sweet smell permeates the kitchen while you cook, and its hearty, almost meaty flavor adds dimension and mystery. Finally, I chose Farfalle for its beautiful butterfly shape and suitability with cream sauces.

Ingredients:

  • Approx 6-8 oz of Farfalle Pasta
  • 1/2-1 leek, thinly sliced (focusing on the white or light green part, which is the most tender)
  • 1 pkg of crimimi/baby bella mushrooms, quartered
  • Tarragon
  • Vegetable broth
  • Heavy Cream or Half & Half (I prefer the non-fat kind)
  • Red Wine (I used Pinot Noir)
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Swiss Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper (i like using Fleur De Sol – any type)

1. Prepare the pasta – flavor water with salt, boil for 10-15 min until al dente, drain, sprinkle with a little oil, toss, and set aside.
2. Saute the leeks with butter, fleur de sol (or just salt), black pepper, and a little broth until leeks are tender and the aroma fills the kitchen, taking care not to overcook the leeks (brown leeks are not yummy).  Remove from heat and set aside.
3 Saute the mushrooms with butter, salt & pepper. When mushrooms start to brown and soften, add broth, wine, a pinch of tarragon. Cover, and braise for about 6-8 minutes (simmer on low heat) until mushrooms are thoroughly flavored.
4. Add the leeks and Farfalle. Add some cream, more broth and red wine and another pinch of tarragon.  Turn to low heat and let sauce thicken. Toss in 1/5 cup of parmesan cheese and 2 oz of grated swiss cheese. Mix well and serve hot!

DSCN0640

Subsitution Suggestions:

  1. Substitute red wine with port or sherry to add a sweeter flavor. Try dry white wine for a milder taste.
  2. For an Italian twist, try Basil instead of Tarragon
  3. Mushroom varietals like portabella, white, oyster, would all work in this dish
  4. Replace Swiss Cheese with any of the following: Gruyere, Fontina, Mozzarella, Edam, Gouda, Pecorino, Romano. Or skip it altogether. It’ll be just as good!
  5. If you’re an Omnivore (like Brian), you can add chicken strips
  6. If you’re a Buddhist Veggie (like my parents – meaning you don’t eat Onion/Garlic/Leeks) you can use Asparagus instead.
  7. For a fresh citrus kick of flavor, grate some lemon zest on top

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