There’s something about Italian cuisine which has gotten the world hooked on to it. Pasta is a regular dinner feature on every family menu while thanks to home delivery, pizza and its many versions have become party/game food. I mean have you watched any match at your home with crazy friends without beer and pizza? (Surprisingly I found more Italian restaurants in Paris than French!) Italian cuisine has a wide variety of foods of course, but you’ll come across pasta and pizza anywhere in the world.
Like every other family, I love pasta. Many a night after work I’m thankful to the Italians for having invented this delicious time saver. Boil water, put pasta in, cook and drain. Easy four steps with a sauce and some grated cheese! Takes me less than 15 minutes I swear!
I’m digressing again. I keep pasta in all forms and shapes. Macaroni, Fettuccine, Spaghetti, Penne, Linguine, Fusilli… Come and check out my pasta cupboard! In fact in a flea market in Florence, I kinda went nuts staring at the variety of pastas rather than buying jackets or shoes!
Anyway, when I have some time I prefer to make pasta with a lot of love and care instead like the ones during late night hunger pangs. Recently I made spaghetti using button mushrooms with cheese sauce and a side of apple salad. Try it and you won’t be disappointed.
Spaghetti with mushrooms and cheese sauce
Half packet spaghetti (for 2)
Handful button mushrooms (chopped)
1 small onion (chopped)
3 garlic cloves (chopped)
Half teaspoon chilli flakes (use the packets you get during pizza delivery)
1 tbp regular flour
Knob of butter
1 cube cheese (grated. I used regular processed but feel free)
Salt and pepper to taste
Nutmeg (grated, according to taste)
Parsley to garnish
For the salad
1 small apple (diced)
1 small cucumber (diced)
Handful of crushed pistachios
1 tbs mustard
1 tbs vinegar
Boil the spaghetti as per instructions on the packets and when done, drain and keep aside.
In a pan add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat the onions first. Once translucent, add the garlic and chilli flakes. Then put in the mushrooms and let them cook through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Be a little patient.
For the cheese sauce, start with the roux. Heat butter and flour in a pan until the mixture has browned. Add the milk while continuously stirring. Make sure no lumps form. When a thick bechamel sauce is made, grate in the nutmeg and add the cheese. Your cheese sauce is ready. Finally, mix the now cooked mushrooms to the sauce. Then, to make life simpler, add the spaghetti to the sauce. Coat well and garnish with parsley.
The salad takes five minutes to make. Add the diced apples, cucumber and pistachios in a bowl. Then for the dressing, mix the mustard and vinegar well and drizzle over the salad.
There you have it, lunch is ready in a matter of 30 minutes or so! And it’s a great recipe for vegetarians!