I decided to start a recipe series since The Barefoot Baklesa was actually cooking lasagna barefoot when his dear friend, Sandro Lopa, called him The Barefoot Baklesa for the very first time. It was a few days to Halloween back in 2006 when that came to be... And just this evening, I experimented on something that deserves to be the first recipe to post.
The Barefoot Baklesa's Three Mushroom and Grilled Eggplant Pasta
[serves 3 to 4 very hungry people]
You will need:
250 grams button mushrooms, sliced
250 grams straw mushrooms, quartered
200 grams dried shitake mushrooms, rinsed twice and soaked in distilled water for at least one hour, rinsed a third time and soaked again in distilled water
two medium sized garlic bulbs, crushed and minced
4 large eggplants, whole
1 heaping teaspoon dried basil leaves, if fresh ones are available, then substitute 1/4 cup minced
1 and 1/2 cups of either vegetable, chicken, or beef broth -fairly concentrated. if not available, dissolve one instant broth cube in a cup and a half of hot water
4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons tomato paste [optional]
2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
crushed red pepper flakes
500 grams cooked pasta in flavored pasta brodo, Barefoot Baklesa Style
salt, sugar, and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan Cheese
1. Preparing the Eggplants
With a steel tong, take the eggplants and grill them directly above an open flame -the stove is best if you're in a rush, keep a good watch and turn them constantly. once most of the skin is singed to black and the eggplants are soft, take them off the flame and place them in a large container and cover with plastic cling wrap and let them steam for a few minutes. after they have steamed, take a clean damp kitchen towel or paper towel and run the eggplants against it -this will peel of the singed skin cleanly, if not automatically. chop the eggplants into half inch cubes then set aside.
Pasta Brodo, Barefoot Baklesa Style
in a pasta cooking pot, add the proper measure of water to cook your pasta, 1 laurel leaf, a pinch of dried basil leaves, 1 whole broth cube, a few teaspoons of salt -or subsitute liquid amino salts if you're watching your salt intake, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, and a few teaspoons vegetable oil to prevent the pasta from sticking. allow to boil and cook pasta the usual way.
TIMING IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR THIS RECIPE, sautee only when the water is boiling and you have just put the pasta in to cook.
2. In a deep non-stick pan or skillet heat 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, flavor the heated oil by sprinkling a dash of crushed red pepper flakes and allow to fry for a while; add garlic and sautee in medium heat until golden -take great care not to burn the garlic.
add in the basil leaves and allow to cook a little before adding the shitake mushrooms, the straw mushrooms, and the button mushrooms, allowing some time for each type of mushroom to cook. sautee for another minute or so after all the mushrooms are in the pan. shake in some Worchestershire sauce, salt, and pepper to taste.
Remember, other than the varieties of mushrooms with a woodsy flavor like the shitake or porccino, most farm cultivated mushrooms are bland and in some cases lightly sweet. thus they require some flavoring from the garlic and spices.
3. After that, add in the chopped grilled eggplants and your choice of broth and the 3 tablespoons tomato paste, bring to a boil and allow to simmer in medium heat for about 3-5 minutes. you will notice the sauce thicken due to the grilled eggplant breaking down during the cooking period. add the balsamic vinegar and allow to boil and simmer once again before stirring.
The tomato paste enhances the basil in the sauce while the balsamic vinegar balances the woodsy flavor of the mushrooms. you can add sugar upon what your taste requires.
4. By this time, the pasta will be cooked al dente. Drain the pasta using tongs or a kitchen spider, do not rinse, and mix them in with the sauce -don't worry about some of the pasta water going into your sauce -it's also flavored anyway.
5. Plate and top with grated Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper flakes.
I also discovered cream cheese goes well with this when still warm... hehehehe!!!
I do hope you enjoyed my first in The Barefoot Baklesa Cooks Series
thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa
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