Even though we often try to prepare for things that we know are coming, mentally or otherwise, they can still catch us by surprise. Like today for example, I was in a meeting with my boss and at one point, it must have been 5:00 pm, I turned around towards the window and saw that it was completely dark outside. It is a little bit creepy around my work at night, since I work right near the hospital, so I was immediately weary of the fact that I would have to walk home among moving shadows and dimly lit street lamps.
I grew up in Saskatchewan where the time never changes; everyone around us would be springing ahead and jumping behind, but we always stayed the same. That made sense to me then and it still makes sense to me now. This whole, lets try to save some daylight thing for who really knows what purpose, is unnerving. Seeing the sun dip below the horizon at 4:30 pm just seems unnatural.
I must admit however, that it was nice when I crept in the house on Saturday night at what should have been 3 am but instead was only 2 am, meaning I could sleep in a whole extra hour without feeling guilty. I had a momentary sensation of being a slightly inebriated superhero time traveller which provided a temporary, short-lived thrill. Now that thrill is long gone and I am left with a reoccurring sad feeling when the sun prematurely disappears and the night spreads its dark wings over my window before the workday is even over.
Needless to say, I made it home today, after my meeting, in the dark of evening. I had an idea for dinner brewing in my brain that originated from a separate meal plan that I am concocting which will require a vegetarian gravy. But today, I wanted a pasta. I have been super hard craving pasta lately (must be the cold and dark weather) and have been making a lot of tomato pasta sauces but today I wanted to try something different. I decided to attempt a porcini mushroom sauce but was not to sure where it would go.
I started by soaking some dried porcini mushrooms in hot water, then sautéed onions and garlic in a pan which I deglazed with a couple of splashes of white wine. When I added the porcini broth to the onion mix I realized I would need a thickener. So I made somewhat of a roux by whisking butter and flour in a heated seperate pan for about 5 minutes. I whisked this slowly into the broth but still found it to be quite liquidy and I had no patience for a 30 minute reduction. I proceeded to stir in the chopped porcinis to the mix and then threw the whole thing in a food processor and blended it for about a minute. When I added the mix back to the pan I had a nice, thick but not clumpy, light brown sauce, which actually was very close to a gravy.
I nestled my cooked (store-bought) tortellini into the sauce and topped the pasta with a dallop of pesto and shaved parmesan. It was a decadent, delicious and satisfying dinner. Perfect for a gloomy winters eve.
Tortellini with porcini mushroom sauce and pesto
- 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
- 2 cups water
- 1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed with a garlic press
- 3 tbsp white wine
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1/3 cup pesto - store bought (or combine these ingredients in a food processor: 1 cup lightly packed basil leaves, 1/3 cup grated parmesan, 2 tbsp chopped pistachios, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt)
- 3-4 small servings of cooked tortellini or other stuffed pasta
- Bring 2 cups of water to boil. Stir in porcini mushrooms, turn off heat, and soak for 20 minutes.
- In a separate pot, heat water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pan or pot to medium heat.
- Stir in crushed garlic and onion and cook about 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add a couple splashes of white wine then stir a couple of minutes allowing the alcohol to evaporate.
- Add porcini broth and mushrooms into the onion mixture and stir.
- In a separate pot, melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium low heat, and stir in about 1 tbsp of flour, whisking constantly cooking for about 5 minutes.
- Whisk the butter-flour mix slowly into the broth mixture, a little bit at a time and continue to whisk until well combined.
- Blend the sauce in a food processor for about 1 or 2 minutes.
- Serve the sauce with pasta immediately and top with a dollop of pesto and top with freshly grated parmesan.