I don’t know why mushrooms don’t excite me…that is, until I eat them. I rarely find myself looking at mushrooms and swooning.
They are not attractive. They are a muddy beige color. They are rubbery.
I would not have been the forager to discover them. But someone had a lot more insight that I have, and deep in the forest, they understood that savory taste bud, we now know as umami. It’s the sultry, earthy taste of foods like mushrooms and sea weed. It’s the “it” in many savory dishes, especially those with Asian notes.
Originally, I was going to pair a mushroom sauce with a homemade sweet pea ravioli. But that kind of “sweet” was not the flavor profile I was looking for. I didn’t want mushrooms to appear as an afterthought because after all this is Battle Mushroom, and I’ve watched enough of Iron Chef to realize that the key ingredient must be the main star, boosted, supported, and hoorayed by the other ingredients. The peas were just taking over and they had to be cast somewhere else.
As my mushrooms were cooking with shallots, and butter, the nori sea salt jumped out of the pantry and made a swan dive, thinking more flavor was necessary. After all, this is a battle, and anyone can saute mushrooms, but not everyone has Nori Sea Salt in their possession (thanks to the folks at Mendocino Sea Salt and Seasoning, part of the Food Buzz Festival).
Food bloggers will grovel at times, when they eye a new ingredient and I hung out for ten extra minutes to beg for the sample at the food pavilion. They gave in, and I promised I would let you know that Nori Sea Salt is worth the grovel. It’s made with sea salt, seaweed and sesame seeds. It may seem a bit unorthodox in a mascarpone sauce, but the salty up against that creamy sweetness is unexpected balance.
I had no intention of giving you red heart pasta, but red beet extravaganza took place this week in my kitchen, making borscht and red velvet cupcakes and this was the day my new pasta roller arrived. If you are an experimental cook (or more like a child who needs to play with her new toys immediately, you will understand.
So in a sense this dish made itself and it took part in stages. Ravioli one day, hearts the next day, and a fabulous mascarpone nori sea salt sauce today. All I can say to the triple umami boost is Mamma Mia, this is ten kisses.
You can easily pull this together with store bought cheese ravioli for a much quicker take on this dish. I made my own, and you can get that recipe here. The mushroom sauce would also be delicious with a homemade papparadelle pasta.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Shallots, finely diceed (about one cup)
1 pound of Baby bella mushrooms (or any wild meaty mushrooms, such as porcini)
8 oz. Mascarpone cheese
2 teaspoon Nori sea salt (optional 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon sesame seeds)
2 tablespoons fresh chives, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Saute mushrooms in butter until golden brown. Add marscapone cheese, nori sea salt and toss. Serve immediately.
1 cup all purpose flour
Make pasta according to the directions found here.
1 red beet, peeled, sliced.
Once rested and rolled out, cut with heart shaped cookie cutter.
Heat pan with olive oil. Saute beets in pan, add in pasta after it has been cooked. It will turn beet red.
Cook Pasta and serve with mushroom sauce immediately.