Recipe: Broccoli Rabe

Okay everyone, you can file this one under, “messing around with sacred family recipes.”  My mom found this recipe when I was growing up and we had it all the time. It was easy to make and we all loved it.

I’m not sure what the original recipe called for, but we definitely made it our own. For one thing, we never actually used broccoli rabe – which is a bitter, broccoli-like vege. We always just used broccoli. Recently I wondered, “what would this be like with mushrooms?” It’s a bit of a sacrilege to add or remove anything from this sacred family recipe, but I did it anyway. I think my family will forgive me because the mushrooms are a great addition!


Broccoli Rabe

Bowtie pasta, about 2 cups dry
A couple heads of broccoli
Italian sausage, 1/2 to 1 pound (depending on your preference)
Shiitake mushrooms, 8 ounces or more
Chicken broth
Parmesan cheese

Put on a pot of water to boil for your pasta. While that’s going, heat about 1/2 a stick of butter in a large pan. Break the sausage off in little bite-size blobs and add to the pan. Cook the sausage thoroughly and then turn the heat off and set pan aside.

While the sausage cooks, de-stem and chop the mushrooms. Cut the broccoli into bite sized pieces, using the florets and as much as the stem as you like.  Mince 1-2 cloves of garlic.

Steam the broccoli over a pan of boiling water (sometimes I’ve managed to steam it over my boiling pasta). Heat a pan on medium-high heat, add 1-2 tablespoons of oil and saute the shiitake. When they’re soft and smell fragrant, add the garlic and cook another minute or so. Keep an eye on that garlic as it likes to burn!

When the mushrooms are done, tip them into the pan with the sausage. When the broccoli is done, add that to the sausage and mushrooms. When the pasta is cooked, drain, and add to the pan. If your original pan wasn’t big enough, you may need to switch to a bigger one! Add about 1/2 cup of chicken broth to the pan and mix everything up. Grate some Parmesan cheese, at least 1 cup – more if you like it cheesier. Add that to the pan and mix again. Put the lid on and let it sit for a couple minutes to let the flavors mingle and the cheese melt.


To be honest, I have already messed around with the making of this recipe. The way I grew up making it: after cooking the sausage we added a bunch of chicken broth to the pan and then put the uncooked broccoli in there and steamed the broccoli in the pan over the top of the sausage. When the broccoli was cooked, we added the pasta and cheese and let it all melt and integrate. Feel free to try it that way too!


Recipe: Pasta and Baby Shiitake

We’ve had quite a crop of baby Shiitake this summer. These are mature Shiitake that are just very small. Light levels, mushroom log fruiting frequency, or weather conditions cause this to happen. But they are fun to work with – all you have to do is remove the stem and throw the whole mushroom in to saute. If you get packaged baby shiitake through one of the grocery stores we sell to, then you won’t even have to do that; we’ve already removed them for you!  Added to pasta it makes a simple, quick, and very tasty dish.


Pasta and Baby Shiitake

  • pasta – bowtie, noodles, or whatever you have on hand
  • 8 ounces of baby shiitake (approximately two packages), stems removed
  • salt to taste – probably about 1 tsp.
  • a few cloves of garlic, minced
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, to taste
  • half a dozen cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Boil your chosen pasta until it’s cooked to the amount you like.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a cast iron or other heavy pan on medium-high heat. When hot, put in the shiitake and saute. Cook them for around 5-8 minutes, until they’re soft, aromatic, and starting to brown a little. If you’re not sure they’re done, try one and see if you like it!  Toss in the minced garlic and cook for just a minute or so. Garlic burns easily, so keep an eye on the pan and remove from heat when the garlic starts to brown.

Drain your pasta and dish pasta into shallow bowls or plates. Pile on shiitake and garlic, sprinkle with grated Parmesan, and add a few sliced cherry tomatoes.

Jeremy added a few nasturtium flowers to his because he loves those tasty flowers!

Recipe: Mushrooms and veggies fry up

It must be getting close to spring. I’m growing tired of soups, stews, and chili’s. I want veggies! Fresh veggies! This is a quick recipe for mushrooms and veggies that can be altered to fit any tastes.  It feels like one of those “fake” recipes because it’s so easy – how can “cook up a bunch of vegetables” possibly be a recipe?

Mushrooms and veggies fry up

1 onion, chopped, minced, sliced thin (as you like)
1-2 bell peppers, diced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
2 oz dried (or 1 lb. frozen) mushrooms
Several cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 pound of Italian sausage (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

If you’re using dried mushrooms, soak them in a bowl of warm water for about an hour. When soft, remove stems and chop up. For frozen mushrooms, let thaw for about an hour – then remove stems and chop up. Saute mushrooms in a cast iron or other heavy pan until they’re starting to get crispy, 10-12 minutes. Set aside.

In a large pan on medium-high heat, add onions and a few tablespoons of oil and cook, stirring occasionally. When the mushrooms are starting to look a bit translucent, after a few minutes, add the bell peppers. Continue to saute and stir occasionally so everything is cooking and browning evenly. When onions and peppers are mostly cooked, add the zucchini and squash. Continue to saute and stir. Feel free to add more oil if the pan seems to dry. You may cover the pan for a minute or two at this point to help soften and cook the zucchini and squash. Add the minced garlic and cooked mushrooms. Stir to incorporate and saute for another minute or so. You don’t want the garlic to cook for more than a minute or two (garlic burns quickly).

That’s pretty much it! If you like some extra protein in your dish, you can fry up a 1/2 pound of Italian sausage (or any other kind of meat you like) and add that to the veggies at the end.

I decided to whip up some couscous and throw that in with everything as well.  While everything is sauteing, heat 3/4 cup of broth or water in a small pan. When boiling, add 1/2 cup of couscous. Give the couscous a quick stir, turn the heat off, and cover the pan.  You can add a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil at this point too if you like.  Let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff up the pasta. You can serve the veggies on a bed of couscous, or dump the couscous in and mix everything up together.


Recipe: Pasta with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms, and Cheese

This pasta dish is quite easily adapted. I found it in the New York Times sometime last year and it had been adapted from an Italian cookbook. I changed a bunch of things, and you too can add or remove things to suit your tastes!  I’ll probably revise it again because I felt like there was too much pasta and not enough brussels sprouts – which is saying something coming from someone who prefers pasta over brussels sprouts! Even so, this is a fabulous hearty dish to enjoy in all this cold weather.

Pasta with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms, and Cheese

1 3/4 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1/2 to 3/4 pound penne pasta
10-12 ounces shiitake mushrooms
1/2 pound Italian sausage
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup ricotta
8 ounces Gruyere, in 1/2 inch cubes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
4 sage leaves, shredded
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place the prepared brussels sprouts in a large baking pan (either a 10-by-15 roasting pan or a 9-by-13 lasagna pan), toss with a little olive oil and salt, and roast for about 20 minutes, till they are slightly browned and tender throughout.  When the sprouts are done, remove the pan from the oven and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta and let water come back to a boil. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Just before draining the pasta, remove 2 cups of the cooking liquid and set aside.

Trim stems from mushrooms and save for soup stock. Chop or slice mushroom caps; set aside. Heat a frying pan and add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Crumble Italian sausage into the pan and cook, stirring and turning occasionally, until the sausage is fully cooked and there is no pink. Spoon the sausage out into a separate bowl. If there isn’t much oil left in the pan, add another couple tablespoons of olive oil and saute the prepared mushrooms for about 5 minutes.

Tip the drained pasta, mushrooms, and sausage into the roasting pan with the brussels sprouts.


Add ricotta, Gruyere, and 1 cup cooking water, and toss well. Add more liquid if you think the pasta is too dry.

Warm butter, olive oil, and garlic in a small saucepan. When melted and beginning to sizzle gently, add sage and fry for about 30 seconds. Spoon or drizzle the butter and sage over the pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake for 20 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before eating. Those brussels sprouts really hold the heat!


Recipe: Pesto and Shiitake Pasta


Serves 4
4 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1/2 lb pasta
1 Tbsp plus 1/2 tsp salt
3 cups basil leaves – packed
1/2 to 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp sunflower or olive oil
3 Tbsp pine nuts or to taste
2 cloves of garlic
3/4 cup parmesan or friesago cheese

Bring 2 or 3 quarts of water to boil. Add 1 Tbsp salt and pasta and boil till al dente. If the toppings aren’t yet done, you may leave the pasta in cooking water to keep warm, but turn off the heat when pasta is still firm.

Place basil leaves, oil, pine nuts, garlic and 1/2 tsp salt in blender. Blend until smooth. Add more oil and stir carefully if it is too thick. Add more salt, pine nuts, or garlic to taste and blend again. You should be able to taste all flavors equally, though the pine nuts will be more of an aftertaste. Add 1/2 cup or more to taste of grated friesago or parmesan cheese, then stir or blend to integrate.

Remove stems from mushrooms and save for soup stock in the freezer. Chop or slice mushroom caps. Heat skillet or pan and add 2 Tbsp olive oil (or butter), then add  mushrooms when oil is hot. Saute until soft and slightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Serve pesto on top of hot pasta with mushrooms and remaining cheese, or serve cold for a midsummer picnic.

Variation: if you have garlic scapes available, use 2 oz. of them in lieu of the garlic and use between 2 and 2-1/2 cups of basil. This is also a delicious topping for a burger or steak, with more shiitake mushrooms!