This vegetarian pasta is so good, I've made it three times in the past month. The red pepper flakes add bite; you can use less if you aren't into anything really spicy.
PASTA WITH MUSHROOMS, TOMATOES AND TOASTED FENNEL
This recipe serves two.
3/4 tsp fennel seeds
3/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
3 TB olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 - 8 oz pkg white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 TB water
2 TB butter
20 grape tomatoes, halved (more if you like)
1 TB balsamic vinegar (add a bit more according to taste)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or less to taste)
2 servings of rotini pasta, cooked
In a large skillet, toast fennel seeds and black peppercorns over medium heat until fragrant, being careful not to burn.
Transfer the fennel and pepper to a mortar and crush with a pestle. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, improvise with a plastic bag and hammer. Works just as well! Be sure to let the spices cool a bit before placing inside the bag.
In the same skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat, and add garlic and onion. Saute until tender, being careful not to burn garlic.
Throw on the mushrooms, water and butter. Cook for about 4 minutes.
Add tomatoes, and cook another couple of minutes.
While tomatoes are cooking, toss hot pasta with balsamic vinegar, fennel seeds, peppercorns, basil and red pepper flakes. Add mushroom/tomato mixture, and toss thoroughly to coat. Serve hot.
"I am not
a glutton; I am an explorer of food." How I miss Erma Bombeck!