Traditionally, on Valentines Days gone by, I would knock up a pan of tagliatelle with a slow-cooked chilli and tomato sauce, hand torn basil and parsley, a few finely chopped olives and two lobsters from Leigh Fishermans Co-op nestled on top… I’d carry my big, faithful copper-bottomed sauté pan into the dining room, hand over a fork, and begin, following it with a huge glass dish of mussels in butter, garlic, Madeira and cream, and home made bread to soak it up with. This year, of course, no such extravagance… Firstly, I’m not about to schlep out for a lobster for myself – and secondly, well, I think I can do better than that…
I called this headrush spaghetti, because that’s exactly what happened when I tried it. The pungent intensity of the dried mushrooms, that garlic hit, and the lingering sweetness from the white chocolate… Oh my. It’s 11am here and I’m devouring the lot as I type…
Headrush spaghetti with dried mushrooms, white chocolate and cream.
Ingredients (per person):
100g mushrooms, dried
2 garlic cloves
20g white chocolate
1 tbsp oil
Fresh parsley, to serve
Hard strong cheese, to serve
Drying mushrooms deeply intensifies their flavour, and I buy them from the reduced chiller when I find them – all varieties – and pop them on a baking sheet in the oven for 40 minutes at 180C, or until crisp. They should snap like a cracker when cool. If 40 minutes in the oven sounds a lot – make a batch of Easy Peasy Soda Bread or Love Soup at the same time, or both…
When your mushrooms have dried out, allow them to cool and store in a clean airtight jar. I’ve had mine for around 6 months now in a Kilner jar , and they’re still good.
To make dinner…
Pop a pan of water onto the boil, and add your pasta. Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer gently for 8 minutes, or until cooked.
To make the sauce, first pound the mushrooms to break them down. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, use a pair of kitchen scissors and a teacup, or a rolling pin (or empty bottle as equivalent) on a chopping board or work surface. Or fling them in a blender. Just do what you have to to crush them down a bit…
Cheat-roast the garlic: pop it into a bowl or onto a saucer, rub a little oil into the papery skins, and put in the microwave for 30 seconds on a high heat. Squash the sweet garlic pulp from the skins into the dried mushrooms, and add the cream and white chocolate.
Toss through the pasta with the oil, and serve in a heap with fresh torn parsley and finely grated hard strong cheese scattered on top.
Do you want to know what’s for dessert?
Jack. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe