This post is part of “The Art of Cheese”, a partnership between Honest Cooking and Castello Cheese.
The chill of winter has set in, and there’s no better way to ease into the seasons than with a giant bowl of spicy and cheesy pasta.
By Chitra Agrawal
While in Wisconsin for our wedding, Ben’s mother found some beautiful Hen-of-the-Woods mushrooms right in their backyard. This variety of mushroom is usually found in Autumn and is sometimes referred to as maitake (means ‘dancing mushrooms in Japanese), sheepshead mushroom or ram’s head. They have a full flavor to them that is rich and kind of woodsy and are known to be extremely nutritious.
My brother-in-law Eric dehydrated them so we were able to bring them back to Brooklyn to cook with. If you don’t have access to these mushrooms fresh or dried, you can sub in oyster mushrooms, shiitakes or any other mushroom variety that are rich and flavorful.
So exciting because this arrival of our dried Hen-of-the-Woods mushrooms coincided with a care package of aged Havarti from Castello which has a sharp and creamy flavor to it. The two ingredients immediately reminded me of the pasta sauce I grew up eating that was spiked with Indian green chilies. I don’t think you can go wrong with mushrooms, cheese and Indian green chilies right?
The chill of winter has finally settled in, with heavy coats, scarves and hats now officially out of the storage closet. There’s no better way to ease into the change of seasons than with a giant bowl of spicy and cheesy pasta.
- 1 lb of whole wheat or regular penne
- 25 ounces ounces favorite tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces or 2 cups of fresh mushrooms, rinsed or 1 cup dried mushrooms (re-hydrating instructions below)
- ½ onion, chopped
- 2 Indian green chili peppers (or Serrano, jalapeño), minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup Castello aged Havarti cheese, shredded
- salt and pepper to taste
- herbs for garnish (fresh oregano, basil, parsley) – optional
- If using dried mushrooms, place in bowl covered with warm water for 10-20 minutes or until soft. Saving the soaking liquid, rinse the soaked mushrooms so there is no grit on them. Strain the soaking liquid of grit using a fine sieve or paper coffee filter. You can chop them into bite-size pieces or leave them if they are on the smaller side.
- Boil penne according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- While penne is boiling, heat olive oil in a pan under medium-high heat. When hot add in chopped onion. Fry until translucent, few minutes. Add in the green chili and chopped garlic. Fry until fragrant, a few seconds. Add in the mushrooms and salt to taste and saute for a few minutes. Add in the tomato sauce and ½ cup of the mushroom broth*. Heat through and simmer for a few minutes. Add in the cheese and mix well until melted and the sauce thickens a little. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with herbs and serve over penne.
Chitra writes the food blog, The ABCD's of Cooking, which chronicles her adventures cooking American Born Confused Desi recipes. When she is not recipe blogging, Chitra can be found hosting her online cooking show and a supper club featuring Indian-inspired, vegetarian cuisine. She also teaches cooking classes and sells Indian street foods (sometimes yummy Indian tacos!) at events and artisanal markets in Brooklyn. Her cooking has appeared in the New York Times Dining Journal and she is a contributor to The Huffington Post, Gojee, The Daily Meal and Brooklyn Based.