Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Comfort Food - Mixed Mushroom Spaghetti with Sage & Mustard Seeds

I did my Daft Vader act again today. It’s amazing how often I get an asthma attack in Singapore. I suspect it’s because the air is so polluted and it's so humid here that I tend to break into a wheezy, gasping fit more often here than in most places.

Photo from

During asthma attacks, for some reason I really, really crave comfort food. Chicken soup. Mash potatoes. Pumpkin soup. Any soup. Macaroni and cheese. Pasta. Any pasta. Well, any pasta except those with anchovies.

I was tempted to go to the shops to buy some nice, hot noodles soup except it was doubtful my lungs could make the walk. And I really did not want to do the heaving bosom, wheezy act in front of the food stall owners.

Comfort food was essential. And I needed creamy pasta to really silence the self-pitying child in me. So I opened up the mixed mushroom package and started a quick and easy pasta dish that took about 15 minutes to cook. I used a bunch of leftover ingredients for a semi-vegetarian comfort dish.

Mixed Mushrooms Spaghetti with Sage and Mustard Seeds

Small packet of mixed mushrooms
– mine had brown, shiitake & shimeiji or pioppini mushrooms
1 tbsp of ham ends

– use the super fatty bits

½ onion, sliced in semi-circle rings

1 garlic clove, sliced
1 tsp of black mustard seeds
1 handful of fresh sage leaves
A little white wine
Pinch of sugar
½ tbsp thick cream
Handful of spaghetti
Ground black pepper

Grated parmesan

1. Boil a pot of water with some salt

2. Sauté the ham ends to render the fat till they are crisp and golden brown and the fat has released into the pan

3. Put your spaghetti into the boiling, salted water to cook. Mine took about 8-10 minutes so that gave me more than enough time to make the sauce.

4. Remove the overly fatty ham bits from the pan and sauté your onions and garlic in the same pan till the onions are soft and transparent. Do not worry about deglazing the pan yet at this stage as it will all work out when you add the cream.

5. Add the mushrooms and sauté, adding a couple of dashes of white wine.

6. Add a pinch of sugar to encourage the mushrooms’ natural sweetness and coarsely shred the sage leaves by hand into the pan, reserving a few leaves

7. Add the cream and the mustard seeds and cook on low till simmering

8. Season with the salt and pepper

9. Drain the spaghetti and place into the pan with the sauce and toss to coat well

10. Taste and adjust seasoning if required (mine didn’t) and add the last few sage leaves in

12. Serve immediately with some grated parmesan for a heart and body warming comfort to the senses and mind

The creamy lusciousness of the mushrooms sauce evokes the warm kisses of the Tuscan sun. The mushrooms are velvety strokes on the tongue and palate. The smokey, salty porcine flavour of the ham ends lends a rustic touch to this simple dish but is elevated to a loftier realm by the elegantly aromatic sage. The sneaky addition of black mustard seeds is an altogether indulgent personal quirk. It’s my impudent nod towards Indian cuisine by adding subtle yet distinctive texture with the little nuggets of spice into this Italian dish.

All waxing of lyrics aside, I just wanted to feel warm and fuzzy instead of woozy and breathless so this dish worked for me. Taste wise, it scores a 8.25/10. Health wise it scores a 7/10. Comfort wise it scores a perfect 10.

Categories - Call Me Others, VeggieMight


Blogger a said...

Hi MM,

I love mushrooms...this dish looks really delicious..any left over?

take care!


2:16 am  
Anonymous ces said...

wow! you've got something nutritious going on here! bumped into your site thru tin! i'm linking you up ok?

6:04 am  
Blogger Pille said...

Hi Mm - a nice mushroom dish! I've never added mustard seeds or sage to my mushroom&pasta - there's an idea. (And nope, I have never seen shimeiji or pioppini mushrooms here)

7:11 am  
Blogger MM said...

Hey Tin, yes there were leftovers! I seem to live in leftovers hell - I always have leftovers. Good luck again today!

Hi Ces, yes it was pretty nutritious and yummy. And thanks for visiting and linking to me!

Hey Pille, thanks so much! I tend to throw things into my food at a whim. Most of the time it works although there have been some hairy moments. You can use any mixture of mushrooms for this dish. The idea is to be easy, quick and versatile, not stuck to a recipe ... since I cooked this on the fly too. Love your blog by the way.

12:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope you're feeling much better. Comfort food will certainly do the trick. Wonderful looking dish!


1:23 pm  
Blogger Sharizal said...

do u think it'd taste as good with magic mushrooms? :D

12:44 pm  
Blogger MM said...

Thanks Paz. The weather's been rather uncertain which has been giving me problems but I am getting better. Until my Calamity Jane instincts kicked in today and I turned my ankle .. sigh, just can't win.

Sharizal - Thanks for visiting. Er ... funny story about that actually ...

11:43 pm  

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