I calculated last night that I have slept the past 6 nights in 5 different beds. That is a lot of moving around for this mama! I finally landed back home this morning and realized I didn’t have the time or energy to go to the grocery store, but the last thing I wanted was to eat out… again. Thanks to my winter CSA farm box (and a few other random vegetables), I was able to pull together this pasta dish and it turned out amazing. I loved it! I’m not going to admit how many serving I had, but you get the idea. I didn’t do a great job of writing down exact amounts, so below is my best guess as to what I did- feel it out as you are making it and adjust accordingly. Takes about 4 hours and serves about 4 adults.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, minced
- 8-9 large white button mushrooms, very finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1/2 tablespoon herbes de provence
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup prepared marinara sauce (or substitue for more crushed tomatoes)
- small piece of rind of Pecarino Ramano Cheese (totally optional!)
- about 2/3 lb whole wheat orecchiette pasta (can substitute shells or fusilli)
The key to this fantastic sauce is to cut the mushrooms very small- it takes a few extra minutes at the cutting board, but it is worth it- makes this sauce resemble a beef Bolognese. Dice the onion and carrot finely as well.
In a large dutch oven or heavy bottom pan (I love my Le Creuset) over medium high heat add the olive oil and onion, saute for several minutes before adding the carrot, garlic, and mushroom. Add the herbes de provence and the salt and pepper (you need a good pinch or two of salt). Add the remaining ingredients, except the pasta. Cover and cook on very low heat for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.
A word about the cheese rind- when I get Pecarino Ramano or Parmigiano Reggino (the real stuff), I will save the rinds and store them in the freezer. I like to add them to stews and soups to impart a massive amount of flavor without much cheese at all. The rinds will last for a month of two in the freezer. If you are using the cheese rind in the recipe, stick the entire piece of rind in whole (I used a piece about 1.5 inch square) and allow it to cook with the sauce for about an hour and then remove the whole thing before it starts to fall apart. Discard.
About 15 minutes before you are going to eat, drop the pasta into a large pot of boiling, salted water. Cook until al dente. Reserve some of the pasta water before draining the pasta. Add the pasta straight into the sauce pot. Combine and add a bit of pasta water if necessary for moisture.
Enjoy with loved ones.