Dried mushrooms and tomatoes with pasta make a healthy meal
By Chef Lippe
Porcini mushrooms are an excellent source of riboflavin (also known as vitamin B2) and niacin (also known as vitamin B3), selenium (a trace mineral that is essential to good health but required only in small amounts. Selenium is incorporated into proteins to make selenoproteins, which are important antioxidant enzymes. The antioxidant properties of selenoproteins help prevent cellular damage from free radicals. Free radicals are natural by-products of oxygen metabolism that may contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Other selenoproteins help regulate thyroid function and play a role in the immune system.) and potassium ( a very important mineral for the proper function of all cells, tissues, and organs in the human body). They also contain an antioxidant called L-ergothioneine (L-Ergothioneine (LE) is a unique, naturally occurring antioxidant that is abundant in most plants and animals. LE cannot be synthesized by humans and therefore is available only from dietary sources. The avidity by which dietary LE is assimilated by tissues, the specific and significant effects it has on cellular processes, and the degree to which it is conserved by cells suggest an important physiological role for this molecule. It has been shown that LE plays a dual role in both energy regulation and in protecting cells from oxidative damage. High concentrations of LE are found in a number of organ systems including liver, kidney, the eye, seminal fluid, and erythrocytes. The biological significance of LE is only now beginning to be fully understood.)
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 cup) http://shop.cheflippe.com/porcini-mushrooms-dry/
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion or shallot
2 to 3 plump garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes in juice, coarsely pureed in a food processor fitted with the steel blade.
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound penne or other pasta of your choice
Place the mushrooms in a measuring cup and cover with hot water. Let soak 15 to 30 minutes, until soft. Line a strainer with cheese cloth and cover mushrooms while soaking. Drain the mushrooms and squeeze them over the strainer. Then rinse in several changes of water and chop coarsely. Keep 1/4 cup of the mushroom soaking liquid for use later.
Begin heating a large pot of water for the pasta. Heat the olive oil in a large, frying pan over medium heat and add the onion or shallot. Cook, stirring, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir together for 1 minute, until fragrant, then add the mushrooms and stir together for another minute or 2, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the mushroom soaking liquid, the thyme and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir and turn up the heat. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until thick and fragrant, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add a generous amount of pepper, to taste. Keep warm.
When the pasta water comes to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Cook al dente, following the timing directions on the package but checking a minute or two before the suggested time is up. Remove 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and stir it into the mushroom sauce. When the pasta is cooked through but still firm to the bite, remove another 1/2 cup water, drain the pasta and toss with the sauce in the frying pan if possible. If you wish to thin out the sauce or moisten the pasta further, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water or more of the mushroom soaking liquid. Serve hot; with Parmesan at the table.
Yield: Serves 6