Aired March 15, 2011
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped and thinly sliced
2 large shallots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
About 2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme
2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
1 large fresh bay leaf
Salt and pepper
About 2 tablespoons double-concentrated tomato paste, from a tube
About 1/2 cup dry sherry or Marsala wine
1 cup heavy cream
A few grates nutmeg
1 pound whole wheat or whole grain pasta long or short cuts both work with this sauce, I enjoy linguini with it
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a couple of handfuls plus some to pass at table
Chopped toasted hazelnuts
Chopped flat-leaf parsley or watercress
Bring a large pot of water to boil for pasta.
In a large, deep skillet, heat EVOO, 3 turns of the pan, over medium to medium-high heat. Melt butter then add mushrooms and brown well, 12-15 minutes. Add shallots, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper, and stir a few minutes more until very fragrant. Add tomato paste, stir to incorporate. Add sherry or Marsala and stir to combine, stir in cream and reduce heat to low; season with a little nutmeg. Allow sauce to gently reduce at a low bubble while pasta cooks.
When water is boiling, add salt and cook pasta to al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup starchy water just before draining. Drain pasta.
Add some cheese to the sauce, stir, and add drained pasta to the pot. Toss to coat, using a little starchy water to incorporate if necessary. Serve in shallow bowls with more cheese to pass at table. Add texture and more flavors to dish by topping with toasted chopped hazelnuts and parsley or watercress.