Creamy Wild Mushroom Penne

I have always been a fan of creamy pasta sauces although the traditional ones made with butter and cream will speed up your tour to the grave.  My vegan version is rich and creamy, loaded with mushrooms and earthy flavor, yet heart friendly.  This recipe starts with the basic concepts of a white sauce;  milk, flour and fat.  Because I am using mushrooms and onions in my sauce, I’m going to thicken it with a slurry at the end of the cooking process rather than a roux at the beginning.

Serves:  6
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:   20 minutes

1 medium onion
8 cloves garlic or more, minced
2 ½ cups wild mushrooms
6 portabella mushroom caps (if you want a steak-like topper to your pasta )
1 tsp dried thyme
3 cups unsweetened rice milk
1/2 cup rice flour
3/4 cup white wine
1.5 cups frozen sweet peas
400 grams quinoa pasta (penne or rigatoni) or other non-wheat pasta

I started by marinating my portabella mushroom caps in some white wine, a little olive oil, a pinch of thyme and salt and pepper.

Finely chop the onion and sauté until translucent in a sauté pan.  Add the minced garlic.

DO NOT BROWN or you will have black bits floating in your sauce!

Add the sliced mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms have almost lost their moisture.

Add the thyme and deglaze the pan with the white wine (adding wine to the pan to incorporate the cooking juices from the onions and mushrooms is known as deglazing!).  Remove from heat and set aside for a few minutes.

Prepare the pasta according to the directions on the package.  I would normally use quinoa pasta specifically because this sauce is not particularly high in protein and I want to give the dish a protein boost.  Unfortunately I didn’t have any this time, so I used spelt pasta (each serving of the final dish will have about 12 grams of protein with the spelt).  Do not overcook.  When finished, rinse with cold water and set aside.

Julienne a red pepper into strips and saute momentarily.  Add to the mushroom mixture.

In a 2 cup measure, begin to mix the rice flour with a little rice milk.  Pour in a little at a time so that you don’t get any lumps, however the beauty of rice flour is that it’s very soluble.  It won’t clump like other flours.  When you have a consistent paste, fill the 2 cup measure to the top.  This makes up 2 cups of the three cups of rice milk needed.

Add the non-dairy milk and bring the liquid to a slight boil, being careful not to scorch the milk (ie – don’t make sure that it doesn’t boil for several minutes).  Turn the heat down to minimum as soon as it starts to boil, and add the remaining 1 cup of milk.

Stirring constantly, let the sauce cook for another 10-15 minutes or until you can no longer taste flour (you want to cook the flour off).   Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, add the frozen peas and set aside for a few minutes.

Make sure when you add your peas to the sauce, there are not any clumps of frozen peas.  Break them apart before-hand so that they will heat through.  You want your peas to remain crisp and green.   Adding them any sooner than this will overcook them.

Saute the portabella mushrooms.

Mix your pasta together with the sauce  and plate in pasta bowls, topping the pasta with your sautéed portabella mushrooms.

Enjoy with a large glass of pinot noir…

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