shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, and pesto pasta

For Christmas last year I got a subscription to “fine cooking” magazine. So far, I love it. My husband and I try to do one new recipe each week and this magazine has been really useful so far! They have so many great recipes in each that I am backlogged for trying the new things from the magazines. That being said, recently I have been really into pasta with mushroom sauce. I love the earthy flavors that the mushrooms impart. Also, mushrooms don’t have a whole lotta calories so they are a great addition to pasta.

Most recently we did a recipe from the April/May 2016 Fine Cooking called “cavatelli with shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, and pesto”. My grocery store happened to have asparagus on sale this week so I thought it was a perfect time to attempt this recipe. Also, the recipe had such a pretty looking picture to go with it, I wanted to try to make a plate that looked that delicious.

The recipe called for cavatelli. Now, I went to a big box grocery store and they didn’t have any fresh or frozen cavatelli. So, I went down the pasta aisle and looked for any shape that I thought would cook up to have a bit of a bite to it. I landed on gemelli, which I think turned out nicely! And it was only a buck for the box (I am sure fresh/frozen cavatelli would have been more). When preparing this recipe I did learn that 1 lb of dried pasta = 1 1/2 lb fresh. So, instead of using the entire 1 lb box of dried gemelli, I used about 11 oz.

The recipe also called for pesto – luckily we had a great basil crop last year and I still had some blocks of frozen pesto left, so I was excited to be able to use the homemade stuff! But, any pesto from the store would do as well.

Funny story: my dog LOVES cheese. When he realized I had cheese out on the counter he came right over to see what I was doing and make sure any I dropped was swiftly cleaned up.

Petey is waiting for any cheese to fall on the floor. I may have given him a taste. This dog has a very refined cheese palate.

Once you get things chopped up, this recipe is pretty fast to put together which is pretty crucial on a weeknight after work.

Let me know what you think of this recipe if you try it and let me know if you make any changes to it! I love to hear how people make recipes their own.

As I said before, my goal was to make a pretty plate like the picture in the magazine. How do you think I did?

mushrooms, asparagus, pretty pasta dish

Here is the recipe:

Cavatelli with Shiitake Mushrooms, Asparagus, and Pesto (Fine Cooking, April/May 2016)

  • salt
  • 1 lb fresh or frozen cavatelli (I used 2/3 lb, about 11 oz, of dried pasta)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 8 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced into 1/2 inch thick pieces
  • 8 oz asparagus, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp pesto (homemade or store bought)
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 oz (1/2 cup) pecorino romano

Bring large pot of well salted water to boil. Boil the pasta until just shy of al dente. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water, drain.

Heat oil and butter in large skillet over med-high heat. Add mushrooms, season with salt, and cook, undisturbed for about 2 minutes to get them browned on one side. Then add the asparagus and garlic, stir occasionally until asparagus just tender (about 4 minutes).

Add pesto, pasta water, and stir. Lower heat and toss in the pasta and simmer until al dente and then stir in the cheese.

Season with additional salt/pepper and pesto.

Serve topped with more cheese and a bit of fresh basil if you have it.

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