Back of the Pantry

As the end of the school year drew to a close last week, I [naively] thought Great, the kids are on summer vacation! No more homework, no need to pack lunches, no alarm clocks! Time to rest. Aaah. Wrong. I forgot a few details. Like…

Back of the Pantry

As the end of the school year drew to a close last week, I [naively] thought Great, the kids are on summer vacation! No more homework, no need to pack lunches, no alarm clocks! Time to rest. Aaah.

Wrong.

I forgot a few details. Like gymnastics recitals. And a dear visitor from out of town. And summer camps that require packed lunches, a lot of driving, a lot of waiting in my car, and…alarm clocks.

This week turned out to be busier than I expected, so busy that I haven’t had a chance to do some proper food shopping. So when it came time to prepare dinner tonight, I hadn’t the foggiest clue what to do. I figured I would dig deep, to the neglected items in the back of my pantry, and see what I could pull together. You know we all have those items that just get pushed back…and forgotten.

This is the type of cooking that can either result in a spark of genuine inspiration or something extremely awful.

What I pulled out of my pantry: penne pasta, garlic, a shallot, a tin of anchovy fillets in olive oil.

In my refrigerator, I had: prosciutto, Parmegianno-Regianno, some beautiful shiitake mushrooms and a few bouquets of asparation.

Penne with Asparation, Shiitake Mushrooms & Prosciutto

Are you familiar with asparation? It is also known as baby broccoli or, even cuter, broccolini. A tender cruciferous, with long stalks like asparagus, but the florets of broccoli, it is sweet and delicious. We actually like it grilled (I know, that’s a big surprise).

The ingredients came together with the help of a bit of cream as Penne with Asparation, Shiitake Mushrooms & Prosciutto. As I took my first bite, I breathed a sigh of relief. The saltiness from the prosciutto and anchovy melted together with the freshness of the asparation and muskiness of the shiitake. You know what? I will definitely make this again.

Penne with Asparation, Shiitake Mushrooms & Prosciutto

  • 1lb dried pennePenne with Asparation, Shiitake Mushrooms & Prosciutto
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup finely diced prosciutto (or ham)
  • 3-4 anchovy fillets
  • 3 cups Shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 bunch asparation, about 15 stalks, cut into ½ inch pieces, stalks and florets separated
  • ½ cup cream
  • Parmegianno-Regianno Cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook penne pasta according to instructions.

In a large, heavy saute pan, melt butter in olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots, saute for about a minute. Add red pepper flakes, prosciutto and anchovy fillets, mashing the anchovies into a paste as you incorporate it into the ingredients.

When the shallots are translucent and the prosciutto crisp, add the shiitake mushrooms and asparation stalks, season with a little salt. Saute until the mushrooms soften, adding a little olive oil if it starts to dry out.

Add the asparation florets, about an 1/8 cup of pasta water and saute. Stir in the cream. Add the penne to the saute pan and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Comments

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  1. wannafoodie

    This sounds heavenly! And you’ve given me the snippet that I learned today… I had NO IDEA that broccolini was also called aspiration. Fantastic little bit of info!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Yes, isn’t it interesting how it has so many different names??

      Reply
  2. Mushrooms Canada

    This looks absolutely mouthwatering! The meatiness of the shiitakes would compliment the prosciutto and pasta very well. This would also taste fabulous with a mixture of shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

    Thanks for sharing!
    – Brittany

    Reply
  3. The Rowdy Chowgirl

    Is there anything penne can’t fix? I do the same thing when I’m out of time or groceries–boil up the penne and start adding whatever I have. It always turns out delicious!

    Reply
  4. Marly

    I love broccoli…but I never thought of it as such a beautiful flower before. Your pic is inspiring. And so is your site. Looking forward to return visits!

    Reply
  5. SMITH BITES

    I’m having one of those weeks as well; getting back from vacay and having emptied the fridge before we left, have had to dig deep and be extra creative! I love pasta and pasta with mushrooms, proscuitto and some greens – even better!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Oh, I completely understand! After a vacation, sometimes it can be hard to get back in the swing of things! Between laundry and unpacking, trips to the market can be tiring!

      Reply
  6. bunkycooks

    What a great looking desperation dinner! We all have some of these moments, but it looks as though yours turned out quite well.

    Reply
    • Liren

      Thanks!! For a desperation dinner, at least it was fairly pretty :) I was just relieved it tasted so good – can’t go wrong with prosciutto in pasta!

      Reply
    • Liren

      Tastes just like broccoli – if you like your little trees, you’ll love asparation/broccolini!

      Reply
  7. citronetvanille

    I had no idea that was called asparation, I always call it either broccoli rabe or borccolini! either way, they’re delicious like in this beautiful pasta dish, the shiitake add so much flavor that I know these penne are simply delicious! Hope next weeks slows down, have a great weekend!

    Reply
    • Liren

      I’ve called it broccolini, too, but more and more I’m seeing it referred to as asparation. Either way, I agree, it’s such a delicious veggie! Thanks for the wishes, I’m looking forward to a calmer next week :)

      Reply
  8. Jean

    It’s beautiful, Liren. Sounds like stuff I would have found in my pantry/fridge. I love pasta with anchovies, yum!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Thanks, Jean! Yup, it’s all basic ingredients – I’m glad I’m not the only one who likes pasta with anchovies!

      Reply
    • Liren

      Aw, thanks Denise! Sometimes these throw together meals can be surprising!

      Reply
  9. The Housewife

    It’s great when on the fly creations work, especially at the end of the day when you’re tired but made an effort! Beautiful picture :)

    Reply
    • Liren

      Me too :) You hit the nail on the head – after a long day, there’s nothing better than success in the kitchen and a yummy meal.

      Reply
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