Mushroom and Cottage Cheese Pasta
This low-effort, intensely flavored pasta dish highlights the earthiness of mushrooms. First, the mushrooms are cooked to release moisture and to concentrate their flavor, then they are puréed into a velvety sauce. Cremini mushrooms are an excellent choice because they are accessible and have a bold mushroom taste, but other varieties also work. For even more mushroom flavor, add a few shiitake mushrooms or a small handful of rehydrated dried porcinis. Cottage cheese is perhaps the most underappreciated of the supermarket fresh cheeses. The curds melt through this pasta to add a feathery light, mildly sweet creaminess.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½pounds cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and roughly chopped (about 6 cups)
- 1yellow or red onion, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 6garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1pound short pasta, such as rigatoni, penne or cavatappi
- 1cup full-fat cottage cheese, plus more for serving
- 1teaspoon red-pepper flakes (or to taste)
- Handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
Step 1Heat a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high. Drizzle with the olive oil and add the mushrooms, onion, 1 teaspoon salt and a big pinch of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released some of their liquid, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for another 7 to 8 minutes, until the mushrooms are completely soft, and golden in parts, and the liquid has cooked away. Turn off the heat.
Step 2Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. Reserve 3 cups of the pasta cooking water, then drain the cooked pasta. Return the pasta to the pot.
Step 3Transfer the mushroom mixture to a blender or food processor and add 2 cups of the pasta cooking water. (Keep the rest, in case you need more to loosen the sauce.) Blend until silky. Taste, and add a touch more salt and pepper, if needed.
Step 4Pour the mushroom sauce onto the pasta, add the cottage cheese and toss to coat the pasta.
Step 5To serve, squeeze over some lemon juice; top with red-pepper flakes and chopped parsley. Finish with an additional dollop of cottage cheese, if you like.