Guest recipe: Fresh pasta handkerchiefs with mushroom sauce and really good beans »
There are three parts to this recipe: the beans, the pasta, the mushroom sauce. Any one of them can be plucked out and used in other dishes. The beans must be started at least one day in advance. This recipe is for two people so you can adjust accordingly, but you may have extra of both the pasta dough and the beans at the end. They both keep very well. Lastly, this is largely a pantry dish but the fresh ingredients—mushrooms, rosemary, greens, onion and garlic—come through so clearly that it still feels springy. I do suggest seasoning to taste and that’s how the recipe is written, but if you‘re meticulous or don‘t know what you‘re doing, a general standard is to salt at .5 percent the weight of the ingredient.
1 cup large dried beans (I use scarlet runners)
½ bunch rosemary
4 cloves garlic
Approximately 2 cups olive oil
6 large crimini mushrooms (about 200g)
2 to 4 grams Dried porcini mushrooms
1 small onion
2 Tbsp. white wine, not a sweet one (get a box or a four-pack of those smaller bottles—you‘re not going to use that much so this way it keeps)
1 Tbsp. any kind of wheat flour
½ cup white wine vinegar
12 oz semolina flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill mainly ‘cause Bob seems like such a nice guy)
½ bunch greens, stemmed if necessary (I like kale or sorrel for this)
This is a bean confit—in French confit generally means to preserve, more specifically to cook something at a low temperature covered in fat and leave it in the fat in which it was cooked. Most traditionally this method is used for dead duck cooked in the fat of all its friends and family, but more recently it’s been applied to lots of things, from artichokes to tomatoes to garlic to beans to cabbage. You may have leftover beans, and you can eat them at 2 a.m. with a spoon in the light of the refrigerator. Or on a salad, or in another pasta, or on a sandwich.
Soak your beans overnight with a bunch of salt. You cannot over salt them in this state so just put in a handful. The salt will reduce cooking time even further than just plain soaking.
The next day drain the beans and put them in a pot with enough water to cover them by about three inches and add 2 Tbps. of salt. Simmer until the beans are cooked—it could be anywhere from a half hour to an hour. Start tasting at about a half hour.
Drain the beans when they feel cooked but before they‘re falling apart. Now we will make them delicious. Put the beans in the smallest pot that will hold them all. Cover the beans with oil. This may seem like a lot of oil. It is. Fat makes delicious. Don’t quote me. Put in 4 sprigs of rosemary, 4 peeled garlic cloves, and 1 tablespoon salt. Gently stir it up.
Cover with a pot lid or aluminum foil and cook for 45 minutes at 300 degrees. Spoon one out and blow on it or let it sit in a cold place for a solid minute. When they are done they will feel luxurious in your mouth. Season the pot with 2 or more tablespoons of white wine vinegar and more salt if needed. Do this either earlier in the day or like 2 weeks ahead of time, the most important thing being that it needs to cool down in this oil to get the most out of this preparation.
If I had to choose one food to be forced to eat every day for the rest of my life it would be pasta. It’s funny and sad that vegan options at restaurants are almost always limited to spaghetti with marinara. While some Italian traditions do use eggs in their fresh pasta, most Italian homes before WWII could not afford eggs and therefore used flour and water as their dough, like in this recipe. Keep this book in your bathroom and you will learn a lot. At home, dried pasta is one way to go, almost all of it is vegan and lots of it is awesome. But fresh pasta is a whole different creature and it only takes them about 5 minutes to make it on Iron Chef.
Take out a scale. Weigh out 250g of semolina, 2g salt, and 100g of water. If you don’t have a scale this will be about 1½ cups flour, a two-finger pinch of salt, and ½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. water. I wouldn’t suggest it for this dish, but if you want a slightly richer dough, you can also add 1 Tbsp. olive oil toward the end of mixing.
Use a food processor, a Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook, or a large table and your hands. Mix the semolina and salt. Pour in the water and mix until it becomes a firm ball. Keep mixing for a few more minutes.
Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit for about 45 minutes. During this time you may want to make the mushrooms.
Dust a surface with flour. Roll out large bubblegum-size pieces of the dough into 1/8th-inch flatness using a pasta machine or a rolling pin. If you want to cut neat corners do that, preferably with a pizza wheel. Then ball the scraps back up and roll them out again. Sprinkle flour over the top of the rolled-out dough and hang it up on your clothes dryer rack from target, or shower curtain rod so that they don’t stick to anything as you keep rolling out more.
You will want about 5 of these pasta sheets per plate.
This is called a duxelle.
Put the mushrooms in a food processor or chop them up fine by hand. Small dice the onion or if you’re really lazy put that in the food processor, but separately from the mushrooms. Pick the leaves off a rosemary twig and chop them up too. Break up about four pieces of dried porcini mushrooms into breadcrumb-sized pieces.
Heat up a nine-inch frying pan and put 4 Tbsp. of oil in it. When that’s hot, put in the mushrooms, onion, rosemary and porcinis and season it all with salt and pepper. Cook over high heat, stirring every two minutes or so. At every point you want enough oil so that the bottom of the pan is shiny with it.
When it’s pretty dark brown, after say 10 minutes, sprinkle in 1 Tbsp. of flour. Stir it around to incorporate. This will give the final product body and make it more of a sauce Cook for another two minutes. Pour in 2 Tbsp. of white wine. Cook until it is mostly evaporated and then remove from the heat.
To put the whole dish together, fill a large pot of water and put it over high heat. This is one more thing you can’t really over-salt; make it into the sea—just not the Dead Sea. Roughly chop five big-stemmed leaves of kale or put aside a small handful of sorrel.
When the water is boiling, heat your mushrooms back up over medium heat and drop your greens, 12 capers, and about 15 beans into the mushrooms. Lightly salt your greens. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring so that nothing sticks. Drop your pasta into the boiling water. Wait 90 seconds. Take your pasta out of the water and drop it into the mushrooms. Stir gently or flip until everything is incorporated. Serve.
Mark Tinkleman is committed to a radically better future for all of humanity where borders are replaced by bridges, religions replaced by thriving cultures, and meat and dairy are replaced by beans, nuts, grains and vegetables. He is a cook by profession, was trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute, and has worked at restaurants including Angelika Kitchen, Blossom Café, Counter, and Parc. He lives with his beautiful partner and their cat in Philadelphia. Go Philly!