1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound cremini mushrooms, rinsed, patted dry, and thickly sliced
1 cup sweet onion, sliced and cut into 1 inch lengths
8 large garlic cloves, peeled, smashed, and minced
1/4 t ground black pepper
Hot red pepper flakes to taste
1 pound spaghetti
2 1/4 cups pasta water, divided use
2 T cold butter or use vegan soy based butter
2 T flat leaf parsley, rinsed, dried, and chopped
1 1/2 cups homemade garlic breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Spoon Mage™ Note:
Garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, and spaghetti combine to create a delicious tradition from Italy called spaghetti aglio e olio. The following Italian-American variation adds the goodness of mushrooms and onions. Homemade breadcrumbs finish the dish with a garlicky crunch.
Before reaching for garlic panko or store bought breadcrumbs to replace homemade, take a look in the bread box. Were you planning to toss that stale sandwich bun or the remains of an elderly loaf of dense chewy bread? Sturdy stale bread makes wonderful garlic croutons which, with the help of a wooden kitchen mallet, smash beautifully into crispy crumbs.
Slow down a bit and enjoy Spaghetti with Caramelized Mushrooms and Garlic Breadcrumbs while The Three Tenors provide gorgeous background music.
Set a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is very hot, add the oil. After the oil starts to shimmer and dance, add the mushrooms and onions, sautéing until they are well browned. Don’t rush this part. Caramelizing the mushrooms and onions enrich the sauce, deepening the flavors. Stir every now and then and inhale the savory aroma.
Once the mushrooms have turned a deep lovely brown, reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the garlic from burning.
Add the ground black pepper and red pepper flakes, stir, and remove from the heat.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti according to package directions.
After the spaghetti has cooked for 4 minutes, scoop out a few ladles of the water (approximately 2 1/4 cups).
Pour 1 1/4 cup of pasta water in the skillet of vegetables, stir well, and return the pan to a medium-high burner. Keep the remaining cup of water in reserve.
After the sauce comes to a good simmer, add 2 tablespoons of cold butter or soy based margarine, and stir until the liquid is velvety smooth.
Add 1 tablespoon of parsley. Keep the second tablespoon in reserve.
Drain the spaghetti. Add the pasta to the skillet, tossing to incorporate the sauce throughout. If the mixture seems too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water. This dish should not be over-saturated or the breadcrumbs will soften.
Add 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs. Toss again. Pour the pasta onto a large serving platter and top with the remaining breadcrumbs, reserved parsley, and grated Parmesan. Additional hot red pepper flakes and Parmesan may be added at the table.
Serve with a leafy greens and tomato salad – and don’t forget the music.
This recipe was inspired by a terrific starter recipe in a book by Michael Natkin called Herbivoracious.