Monday, December 10, 2012

Cencioni Pasta with Caramelized Shallots in a Creamy Mushroom Sauce

As you may have been able to discern from my seasonal seed giveaways, I am addicted to gardening. I've tried my hand at growing many a vegetable, fruit, and flower, but up until very recently, never had I tried cultivating a fungi. I was always intrigued by the idea of growing them. My Theio Niko had a large mushroom-growing heap in his backyard that I remember being covered with mushrooms, and when I thought about how expensive many types of mushrooms can be when purchased from the store, growing them at home made a lot of sense. This inexperience in fungi-growing was remedied when I got my indoor brown oyster mushroom growing kit from Gourmet Mushroom Products. It arrived as a little white log, about 4 inches in diameter and 10 inches tall, with a large and perforated plastic baggie, a sponge, and detailed instructions

Hello, friend.

To start growing them, you cut two little x's in two sides of the log and place the log standing vertically on top of the sponge in a bowl filled with a couple inches of water. You place the plastic baggie over the log and make sure that it touches the water at the bottom of the bowl, and then place the bowl in an area that gets lots of fresh air and indirect sunlight. The window by my desk was a perfect location, and after about a week, I had a nice little brown oyster mushroom colony growing! HUZZAH!!! Once I harvested the mushrooms, I read through the directions again and saw that I could dry out the log for a few weeks, and then repeat the process again for more mushrooms. Which I did promptly.

So now I've had a couple more harvests of mushrooms, and I couldn't be happier about my new fungi growing experience and fancy produce bundle. If you're looking for a fun holiday gift for a foodie or gardening fanatic, I'd highly recommend this kit. It would be a great project to do with kids, too, because of the quick turnaround between "planting" and harvesting. And at $16.95, it doesn't break the bank, either. Not to mention the loads of tasty mushrooms you end up with.

I used my mushrooms to make this rich little vegetarian pasta dish. A creamy oyster mushroom sauce paired with Devo's wild mushroom & sage olive oil (my personal favorite for bread dipping), asiago cheese, caramelized shallots, and cencioni pasta created quite the dinner for Jeremy and myself. Cencioni pasta is a very thick oval that's rough on one side to help trap the sauce in it's crevasses, which it does quite nicely in this dish. It was slightly sweet from the shallots, but had a hearty and earthy flavor from the dairy and mushrooms. Overall, a delicious and filling vegetarian meal!

*Note*: Makes about two servings.


 1 Large Shallot, finely chopped
2 Cups Cencioni Pasta, dry
1 Cup Whole Milk
1 Cup Oyster Mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 Cup Asiago Cheese, finely grated
1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Teaspoons Corn Starch
1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Dried Sage

First, begin the process of caramelizing the shallots. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter with the teaspoon of sugar in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot pieces and stir so that the shallots are coated in the butter and sugar mixture. Lower the heat to low and continue cooking for 30 minutes, stirring every five minutes. If the shallot pieces appear to be drying out and getting crusty and hard, add a teaspoon or two of water to the pan and stir. Once the pieces have turned golden, remove them from the heat and set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms in the butter for about 7 minutes until they turn a deeper, darker brown. Add the milk, wine, and sage, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. The sauce should thicken a bit. After the 20 minutes have passed, whisk in the cornstarch until completely combined, then mix in the salt, and set the mixture aside.

Prepare the cencioni pasta according to the directions on the package, (note, this pasta takes a bit longer to cook than your usual pasta because of its thickness, so make sure you taste a piece before removing it from the stove top to ensure that it's done). Place the pasta in a large bowl and toss with the Devo mushroom & sage olive oil, mushroom sauce, 1/4 cup of the asiago cheese, and half of the caramelized shallots. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and caramelized shallots over the top and serve immediately. Makes about two servings.


  1. I am so glad that I've found you! I can't wait to settle in for a good read one of these days.=] (Right now, it's a bit busy with Christmas - oy! =/) But, I wanted to tell you - I found you through Pinterest. First, I tried the address under your name on your title and that took me to 'GoDaddy'. Then, I googled you and came here but that was silly - if I had just clicked on the image, I would have gotten here a lot faster.... ;) =] Anyway, I just wanted you to know.

    And, what BEAUTIFUL images! =]

    Best wishes,

    Katy Noelle

    1. Thank you so much Katy! Aha, I fixed the link on my Pinterest now so it should work, and thank you for the head's up about that too! I appreciate you going through all that trouble to find me, and your words are so thoughtful :) I hope you have fun reading and look forward to comment-chatting with you!

  2. This looks so delicious!! Love that mushroom kit - how fun to grow your own!

  3. Your pasta looks very tasty! I have always seen mushroom kit in supermarket, but I am always not sure what will turn out. Glad to see you had fun and had great success with it.

  4. I love your blog! I just read your "about" page. I am a fellow Oregonian living in the countryside outside of Hood River. My husband and I are organic farmers. I am a huge fan of your blog. So happy I found you!

    1. Thank you so much! I LOVE Hood River, I am getting married near there in September at Mt Hood Organic Farms. I dream of having a farm out there, such amazing scenery. And do close to the Columbia River and Mt Hood. You must be so contented! I am very happy you found my blog too :)