04 April 2012

Linguine with Shiitakes & Taleggio

I am a sucker for the cheese counter at our local market.  Particularly their discount cheese bin.  In the evenings, they wrap up tiny bits from the day that weren't sold or packaged and sell them at half price.  Basically, it's the best introduction to cheese you could ever ask for....enough to taste, but not so much that you're stuck with something you hate.

While rummaging/smelling my way through it the other day, I encountered a wedge of taleggio.  One whiff and I was sold!  This cheese is incredibly pungent and the plastic wrap could not contain its goodness.  It is a very soft cheese (think brie) but with a fuzzy rind.  I know, I know....you're thinking "fuzz on food = mold!"  But before you go there, let me explain!  This is a washed rind cheese.  Basically, during the aging process, they wash the rind in a brine which causes a soft, dark grey fuzz to grow on the exterior of the cheese.  This good bacteria growth on the exterior of the cheese guarantees mold will not develop and enhances the flavor of the cheese.  The cheese is then scraped and washed again.  Basically, it's a genius way of aging and makes for a bang-a-rang result.

When we got this home, we found that it had a fantastic flavor.  The best way the hubs describes it is "like brie, but blue cheese."  Basically, it has the fruity notes of brie but with an aged, tangy twist.  Delicious.  And since it's so soft, very easy to melt.  So I decided to use the low melting point to our advantage by adding it to hot, savory pasta.

The cheese is definitely the star of this dish.  I had shiitakes in the refrigerator, and knew their earthy flavor would help the whole wheat pasta and cheese to pop.  Add an easy white wine sauce and some shallots and boom, a delicious and healthy dinner!  We served chicken breast on the side, but I ended up mixing it in. 

Whole Wheat Linguine with Shiitakes & Taleggio (4 servings)
  • 8 oz whole wheat linguine
  • 5 oz Taleggio cheese, cubed
  • 16 oz shiitake mushrooms (but any would probably work)
  • 1/3 c shallots
  • 2 tbs smart balance light or butter
  • 1/2 c dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c parsley, chopped
  • lemon wedges (if desired)
Cube your taleggio into small pieces, about 1/4 in squares.  Slice your mushrooms and dice the shallots to prep them.  Then put a large pan over a medium heat burner.  This is a quick meal to bring together!

Cook your pasta according to the directions.  Before straining, reserve 1 cup of the starchy pasta water for later use (this is great stuff!).

When you place your pasta in the water, add 1 tablespoon of butter to your preheated pan.  When it is mostly melted, add your mushrooms.  Sauté for 5-6 minutes until your mushrooms have shrunk considerably and released their juices.  Dump into a small bowl and set to the side.  

Add your diced shallots to the hot pan and cook for 2 minutes until they start to release their aroma.  Add back the mushrooms & the white wine and cook for 4 minutes, until the wine has reduced by half.  Add 1/2-2/3 cup of the reserved pasta water and your salt and bring to a boil.  Then remove your pan from the heat.  Add your pasta, cheese and parsley to the pan and stir for about a minute, until the cheese starts to melt.  Dish up and serve with a lemon wedge, if desired, to add a bit of brightness.

No comments:

Post a Comment