Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Of Ina and Mushrooms

Oh no, does anyone else see the resemblance? Anyway... One my favorite Food Network personalities is the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. I love that she looks like she enjoys what she cooks (that’s a jab at you, Giada), I love that she uses high quality ingredients to elevate simple recipes, and I adore that the fruits of her labor are usually lovingly produced for a gaggle of gay men who in turn, create her table-scape.

Image Courtesy of House Beautiful

Sometimes I even feel like Ina – always cooking for “Jeffrey,” imminently arriving from a long business trip. Alas, this post is not merely about my affection for Ina. At Thanksgiving, I made her recipe for sausage stuffed mushrooms and my god, they were a hit. The use of panko breadcrumbs and mascarpone cheese was such a great twist on a traditional favorite. Check out the recipe over at the Food Network website (or click link above) and make them for your next party. But again, the stuffed mushrooms themselves are not what this post is about.

A couple of days after Thanksgiving, I still had a large container of excess sausage filling for the mushrooms, so I did what any good "waste not want not" kind of girl would: I baked it into pasta. In fairness, you could bake anything into pasta and it would be pretty good. I often do rely on some sort of baked pasta when I’m in need of comfort food. But this particular dish was spectacularly comforting comfort food. Photos after the jump...

You’ll Need:

- 1 Pound of Elbow Macaroni, or other small pasta
- A good mound of the cooked filling
- Additional mascarpone cheese
- Additional panko bread crumbs
- Good quality shredded cheese

1. Cook the pasta a few minutes shorter than package instructions. Drain.

2. In the pasta pot, mix the pasta, the sausage filling, and the mascarpone cheese. Salt and pepper liberally. Spread into a casserole dish.

3. Sprinkle shredded cheese, then panko bread crumbs over the top. Bake at 375 degrees until the cheese bubbles and the edges get crispy.

You might say it only makes sense to make the pasta bake if you’re looking at a pile of leftover filling from the mushrooms. And sure, I can see the logic in that. Go ahead and make the mushrooms, they’re fabulous. But I don’t think it would be completely ridiculous to skip right to the bake. Either way, enjoy... perhaps with a bottle of pinot noir?

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