“Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.” ― Craig Claiborne
I do seek the joy and love in all that I do. There is something to rolling up one’s sleeves and diving into a mound of dough. There is a bit of playfulness to it, and joy. There is definitely joy. That is the primary reason I do what I do; I find joy in it, it feels like a delightful sort of play. Cooking brings a smile to my face and peace to my mind. It engages all the senses and pulls me into the present. It’s why I also prefer to make things from scratch when life and time allows. Homemade pasta dough is so fun to make by hand. I love to work with it, knead it, watch it transform from a shaggy floury mess to a smooth elastic ball. My hands dusty with flour push and tuck the dough in what becomes a sort of meditative rhythm, and suddenly, I forget everything else.
Does anyone else feel that connection with the food they prepare?
This recipe was something that came about on a whim last winter. Simon and I were out of town at a cozy getaway in Meadow Vista California and decided to make a hearty and vegetarian dinner. I sautéed onions, garlic, celery, and carrots in butter. Then tossed in tons of fresh sliced mushrooms along with thyme and sage. Added a little boxed powdered pancake batter (Don’t judge! We were in an Air Bnb with limited supplies!) to thicken the half a bottle of white wine I had added to the pot. With the addition of some vegetable stock I had a rich fragrant stew bubbling away on a cold night. The results were beyond our expectations—even though I find that cooking with wine is the surest way to achieve culinary bliss.
The next time I made a variant of this dish was for Mother’s Day. My sister and I made a spring mushroom lasagna with homemade ricotta and a saucier version of my white wine mushroom stew. Everyone fell in love with the dish and has been talking about it ever since. I knew then that there was something special about this recipe and wanted to share it with all of you!
The original recipe is made in a somewhat similar vein of coq au vin or beef bourguignon; slow simmered mushrooms and vegetables bathed in a wine and vegetable stock broth. I made a ton and served it over creamy mashed potatoes on a cold winter night. But for today’s purposes I adjusted a few things to make a thick sauce—perfect for tossing fresh pasta in. I finely grated carrots and celery, minced garlic and onions so they’d dissolved as they cooked down. I also reduced the amount of wine and vegetable stock for a thicker end-result. The best part is this version comes together in under an hour start to finish—so you don’t need to wait hours to enjoy the end result.
I also decided to make my own version of my sister’s homemade ricotta—if you’ve never tried making your own it’s a must—with roasted garlic and tons of lemon zest. This is wonderful mixed into the pasta or dolloped on top. It’s rich and creamy and so fresh you’ll never want to buy from the store again! And because I made my own cheese I decided I had to make my own pasta as well.
Since I have yet to develop my own pasta recipe I followed one from Serious Eats (it’s very detailed and comprehensive if you’ve never made pasta before!) I worked the dough by hand (aka pasta meditation) and then used my pasta attachment for my KitchenAid to roll and cut into fettuccini noodles. As much as I like to do it all myself, my hand-rolled and cut pasta is never quite as thin or uniform. Perhaps with practice and more upper arm strength I’ll get it one day but until then…
The flavors in this recipe are perfect for spring and summer. The mushroom sauce is delicious on pasta but can be paired with mashed potatoes or puréed cauliflower or even over wild rice. I know most people are sipping smoothies and eating lettuce this time of year to be beach or pool ready…but I’m not about depriving myself of a good comforting meal every now and then!
Make this! Enjoy it! And tell me below how cooking brings you joy!
White Wine Mushroom Pasta with Creamy Garlic Ricotta
For the Ricotta
Makes about 1 ½ cups
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup cream
- ¾ tsp. kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 8 cloves roasted garlic, recipe below
For the Mushroom Pasta
Makes about 4 cups
- 12 oz. homemade pasta (I used this recipe)
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil or unsalted butter
- 3 Tbsp. finely grated carrots*
- 3 Tbsp. finely grated celery
- ½ cup minced onions
- 6 cloves minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp. minced sage
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes, optional
- 32 oz. mushrooms (I used a combination of white, crimini, and shiitake)
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 1 cup chardonnay**
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- Salt and pepper
*You could simply mince the carrots and celery but I opted to use a microplane to finely grate them so they’d dissolve in the sauce.
**If you’d prefer a lighter wine taste use ½ cup wine and add an additional ½ cup of vegetable stock. You could omit the wine altogether but I’d probably smile and slowly back away from you should we ever meet in public…
Make the Ricotta
- Line a fine strainer with cheese cloth folded over four times. Place over a large, heatproof glass bowl.
- In a medium pot bring milk, cream, and salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent milk from burning.
- Add in lemon juice and vinegar and reduce heat to low, gently stirring until mixture curdles—about 1-2 minutes.
- Pour mixture over the cheesecloth and allow cheese to drain for at least an hour. At this point if you’d like you can whip in roasted garlic cloves, lemon zest, or even fresh minced herbs.
- Discard the liquid and store ricotta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Make the Mushroom Pasta
- In a large pot melt butter or olive oil over medium heat.
- Add in carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and sauté for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in mushrooms, herbs, and red pepper flakes and season lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, until mushrooms have reduced in volume and released their liquids.
- Next, add in flour and cook for 2 more minutes before adding in the wine to deglaze the pan.
- Simmer for 3-5 minutes until wine has reduced by half. Then add in stock, reduce heat as low as it will go, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes, stirringly occasionally to prevent mushrooms from sticking. Season with more salt and pepper if necessary.
- When the sauce is nearly done cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook your pasta for 2-3 minutes if using fresh homemade pasta. Or follow package instructions for store-bought.
- Strain the pasta and mix immediately with the mushroom sauce. At this point you can whip in 3 Tbsp. of ricotta or serve it on the side.
Enjoy with some chardonnay and a simple green salad.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut off the top of a bulb of garlic, about ¼ inch. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. Place in a small baking dish to avoid oil dripping. Bake for about 30-45 minutes (depending on the size of your bulb) or until cloves are golden brown. Allow to cool before handling.