Gratin Des Pates Aux Champignons (Wild Mushroom Pasta Gratin)

April 07, 2012 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

Sweet bliss. Spring has sprung, the leaves are back on the trees, flowers are blooming and the cycling season is in full swing now.

This French recipe is in honor of Paris-Roubaix. A grueling one-day race featuring some of the best cobbles in the world (or perhaps the worst cobbles depending on if you’re on a bicycle seat or comfy on your couch watching the action).

ArenbergI made this whilst the In-House Taste Tester was doing his own Paris-Roubaix in the streets of Washington DC. (Easy to do with all the post-winter potholes out there.) Upon his return, he opened the door, and was greeted by the warm smells from the kitchen. He immediately remarked, “Oh, something smells good.” And, he soon discovered that it also tasted good, too.

I’ll admit, the gruyere may be a bit of a spurge on the wallet, but worth it as the earthy mushrooms (with the nice little bit of brandy) go perfectly with the flavors of the mixed cheese.

By the way, while Paris-Roubaix may be one of the most difficult races, this recipe is beyond easy leaving you more time to watch this epic race.

Gratin Des Pates Aux Champignons (Wild Mushroom Pasta Gratin)
from The Vegetarian Bistro

  • 1 pound mushrooms, preferably a combination of cepes, portobellos, shiitakes, chanterelles, or other wild or field mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup brandy, port, Marsala, or Madeira
  • 5 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 pound small elbow macaroni
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Gruyere
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat, saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of the butter or olive oil until they are lightly browned.

Add the spirits, then cook over a high heat for a few moments. Remove from the heat and add the shallots, garlic, and stock. Set aside.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain well, then toss with the mushroom mixture, salt, pepper, chives, the remaining 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil, and about a third of the Gruyere and Parmesean.

Spoon into a 12-inch gratin dish, or into individual casseroles. Springkle with the reminaing cheese and bake until bubbly and golden brown. Serve right away.

Paris-Roubaix Photo by:  Walter Bendix Schönflies via flickr








Penne Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pecans

January 12, 2012 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

Looking to make some pasta but wanting to kick it up a notch? Add some roasted butternut squash, toasted pecans and you’ve got it. The pecans add a crunchy texture into what would otherwise be “normal” pasta while the basil brings in a hint of spring that I’ve been longing for on these long winter nights. I used both fresh regular basil and some red leaf mixed in for good measure.

I’m a fan of butternut squash already peeled, cubed and ready to go.  The bright orange color and the sweet roasted flavor helped boost my mood on a cold winter’s evening. I suppose a bonus is the heated oven keeps things nice and toasty in the kitchen.

Penne Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pecans
By Megabeth

  • 1 package fresh cubed butternut squash
  • 16 oz whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 cup crushed pecans
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesean cheese
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425.

Spread butternut squash, onions and garlic cloves on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Roast for 40 to 45 minutes until butternut squash is golden. Add pecans to baking tray for the last 4 to 5 minutes to toast. (Watch onions to make sure they don’t burn.)

Meanwhile, make penne pasta per package directions and place in bowl. Toss roasted vegetables into pasta. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with some cheese.

Jalapeño and Tomato Macaroni & Cheese

June 23, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Side Dishes

Jalapeño and Tomato Macaroni & Cheese (8)

A traditional macaroni and cheese kicked up a notch with some jalapenos and tomatoes. So good. So yummy. Get in the kitchen and make this. ‘Nuff said.

Jalapeño and Tomato Macaroni & Cheese
adapted from Lisa’s Kitchen

  • 3 medium tomatoes (campari, plum or other tomato of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 pound whole wheat macaroni
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute (or 2 eggs)
  • 1 Tablespoon grainy mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 12 oz cheddar, colby or monterey jack cheese, grated (I used 8 oz colby and 8 oz sharp cheddar)
  • 2 japapeno peppers, seeded and diced

– Chop tomatoes. Place in a sieve to drain the juices moving them around occasionally to ensure better draining.

Jalapeño and Tomato Macaroni & Cheese (1)

– Melt the 3 Tablespoons butter. Combine bread crumbs and cornmeal with melted butter. Put aside.

Jalapeño and Tomato Macaroni & Cheese (2)

– Cook the macaroni al dente, in a large pot, according to package instructions. Drain and return to original pot and add the remaining 4 Tablespoons of butter.

– In a large bowl, whisk the milk, egg substitute, mustard, salt and black pepper. Add 3/4 of the cheese and combine.

Jalapeño and Tomato Macaroni & Cheese (3)

– Pour the milk and cheese mixture into the pot with the macaroni.

Jalapeño and Tomato Macaroni & Cheese (4)

– Stir over medium heat until the cheese melts, the sauce thickens and the gets bubbly.

Jalapeño and Tomato Macaroni & Cheese (5)

– Add tomatoes and jalepenos and stir to combine.

Jalapeño and Tomato Macaroni & Cheese (6)

– Pour into lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Then add the crumbs.

Jalapeño and Tomato Macaroni & Cheese (7)

– Add to preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until top is browned and the sauce is bubbling.

Jalapeño and Tomato Macaroni & Cheese (9)

Jalapeño and Tomato Macaroni & Cheese (10)

Vegetarian Giro d’Italia | Fusilli Pasta with Fava Beans and Peas

May 28, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Vegetarian Giro d'Italia

Fusilli Pasta with Fava Beans and Peas (3)

Fusilli Pasta with Fava Beans and Peas (2)

vegetariangiroDid you you that there is a type of pasta that was originally made, before pasta maker machines, by wrapping the pasta around a bicycle spoke? Yup, fusilli avellinesi is that pasta. Think about the condition of your bicycle spokes and let’s all hope that they used brand new ones in the pasta making. If you check out Anthony Bourdain below, there’s a demonstration of how the pasta is made around minute 9:10. (Fair warning, once you hit the 10 minute mark, you’ll see some animals getting prepped for a feast. If you’re squeamish, then don’t watch past the pasta making demonstration.)


Fusilli comes from the word fuso meaning “spindle” in Italian and was first found in Granducato di Toscana around 1550. This stuff is good because the little nooks and crannies can hold a lighter sauce tightly yet it doesn’t wither when faced with a heavy sauce. For the recipe below, I use a basic dried fusilli, not one formed on a bike spoke, which is more easily found on any grocery shelf.

Whether you call them fava beans, horse beans, English beans, Windsor beans or broad beans, one thing’s for sure – these beans have been around for a very very long time and once were the only beans available in Europe. For your bit of trivia: Apparently, the Greek philosopher Pythagoras (a noted vegetarian) completed despised them. Despite this, he is credited with being the root of pharmacogenetics when back in 510 BC he “noted that hemolytic anemia occurs in some individuals after fava bean consumption. Twenty-five centuries later, this enigma was elucidated by Mager et al. ( 51 ), who demonstrated that deficiency of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase is responsible for this adverse effect of bean ingestion.”  In other words, some folks may be allergic to fava beans causing an anemic reaction (i.e., tiredness, headache, fever, etc.) Thank you, Critical Care Medicine for that information.

On the brighter side, for those of us that don’t have that reaction, this recipe of fusilli con fave e piselli makes a nice rustic meal. I, unfortunately, could not find fresh fava beans, so I resorted to canned – hence the brown hue of my dish. Oh, and don’t forget, you’ll want to serve these fava beans with a nice bottle of chianti…sorry, couldn’t help myself.

Fusilli Pasta with Fave Beans and Peas (Fusilli con fave e piselli)
by Alta Cucina Recipes


  • 1 14.5 ounce box Fusilli shaped pasta
  • 1/2 cup fresh baby peas
  • 1/2 cup fresh fava beans, unshelled (if you can’t find fresh ones, canned will do fine, rinse them first, though)
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 – 3 cups vegetable broth
  • grated roman pecorino cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and white pepper

Finely chop the onion and cook it gently in 3 tablespoons of olive oil until soft. Add the peas and the Fava beans.
Season with salt and pepper and let it to cook for 15 minute over a light heat, adding a little stock when needed. Clean the leaks and chop them in thick slices. Add to the sauce and simmer for another 10 minutes. Cook the pasta al dente and pour it into the pan with the vegetables.

Fusilli Pasta with Fava Beans and Peas (1)


Fusilli Pasta with Fava Beans and Peas (2)Stir to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve, covered with the grated cheese.

Fusilli Pasta with Fava Beans and Peas (4)

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