Aren’t these mushrooms gorgeous? The beautiful crackled patterns caught my eye from clear across the street at the farmer’s market this past weekend. They’re Shitake flower mushrooms… distinguished by the beautiful patterns etched into their surface. They’re sold dried as well as fresh, like these.
My husband and I almost didn’t go to the farmer’s market this past Sunday. You have to get there early, it’s a schlepp, the parking is horrific, and over the years it’s gotten so crowded. We have to slather on sunscreen, stop at the bank to get cash, and, once we get there, dodge all manner of strollers, double strollers, and bizarre market baskets on wheels. Southern Californians are serious about their farmers’ markets; it’s no walk in the park, believe me. Don’t even think about cutting in line for the rainbow chard, or sticking your toothpick in the kumquat sample that someone else has their eye on… It can get pretty ugly.
- Coat the bottom of a heavy pot with oil. Saute the onions, carrots, garlic and pepper uncovered for about 45 minutes over low heat. Stir often. You want the vegetables to soften and get slightly browned by the end. Add more oil if the mixture dries out and sticks to the pan.
- Meanwhile dry roast the mushrooms in a large saute pan. Stir them over medium heat until they start to brown and become fragrant. This will take about 5 minutes, don’t let them burn.
- Add them to the carrots and onions, along with the fresh tomatoes, the canned tomatoes, paste, wine, vinegar and water. Bring up to a simmer. Add the thyme, salt and pepper and bay leaves.
- Simmer, covered, for a minimum of an hour, stirring every so often. I cooked mine for about 90 minutes. Add more water if the sauce gets too thick. If the sauce seems thin, leave the top off for the last bit of cooking.
- When the sauce is done, check the seasoning, remove the bay leaves and the stems of thyme (the leaves will have fallen off during cooking). Stir in a splash of heavy cream.
- Serve over wide pappardelle pasta, with a generous amount of shaved Parmesan cheese.
This was really good. If you’re vegetarian, trying to cut back on red meat, or just love mushrooms, I think you’ll be pleased with this one.