Ask any Italian American who grew up on the east coast what their most comforting winter dish is, a bowl of pasta of course. With the days becoming shorter and cold weather setting in a steaming bowl of pasta at the table is like a warm hug at the end of a long day. Winter pasta doesn’t have to be ladened with a rich slow simmered ragu to be gratifying. Gemelli with Greens & Mushrooms is sure to hit the spot for all of those hearty appetites.
The word gemelli means “twins” in Italian and is an apropos name for this toothsome pasta. These thick strands of pasta dough twisted into a spiral shape creates a rather substantial bite once cooked. Winter greens and mushrooms deep in color and flavor are readily available in the coming months and present a healthy alternative to many of the heavier pasta dishes often associated with the colder months.
Gemelli with Greens & Mushrooms is simple to prepare even on a weeknight, the key is to have the ingredients waiting for you at home. A big pot of boiling water alongside a large skillet on the stove and you are ready to go.
Served as is with some red crushed pepper and a thyme garnish served in warmed pasta bowls, Gemelli with Greens & Mushrooms is a vegan dish that is sure to please a hungry crowd on a cold winter’s nite.
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- 1 pound of dry commercial gemelli pasta
- 4 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 pound of Shitake mushrooms, stems removed and tops sliced into ¼ inch strips
- ½ pound sliced brown mushrooms
- 2 bunches of chard
- 3 garlic cloves smashed
- 2 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Crushed red pepper to serve
- Thyme sprigs for garnish
- Extra Olive oil to drizzle over the finished pasta dish
- Wash the chard well to remove any traces of soil that may remain, dry with clean cotton toweling. Remove the center from each of the fronds of chard and slice the leafy greens into ¼ pieces.
- Fill a large pot with cool water and place it on the burner over high heat.
- Heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat, once the oil becomes hot add both the shiitake and brown mushrooms, resist the temptation to stir at first. Begin to sear the mushrooms and once browned give a stir and leave them to brown again. Once again resist the temptation to stir. When the mushrooms are sufficiently colored, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and add the crushed garlic & thyme leaves to the mushrooms - stir to incorporate completely into the mushrooms. Add the prepared greens to the skillet, stirring well until they have wilted. Remove from the heat, taste and correct for seasoning.
- This may be prepared before hand and set aside until you are ready for the pasta.
- Once the water has come to a roaring boil, add a nice handful of kosher salt and the Gemelli - giving the pasta a good strong stir. Bring the water back to a boil, the pasta should be prepared to just before the al dente stage which is a few minutes before the suggested time on the package directions.
- As the gemelli is cooking, reheat the greens and mushrooms over a low-medium flame. Remove the crushed garlic and stir gently several times.
- Place the serving bowls into a warm oven at 150º.
- Once the gemelli has been cooked to just before the al dente stage, immediately drain it into the skillet with the vegetables and turn up the flame to medium Stir well to incorporate the pasta with the vegetables. If the mixture seems a bit dry, add a bit of the pasta water a little at a time and continue to stir.
- Transfer either to a large serving bowl or individual serving bows that have been warmed. Garnish with a few sprigs of thyme and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Pass crushed red pepper to serve.