Fall Cleanup and Finding a Super-Complicated Recipe: Spinach Pasta with Mushrooms and Garlic

Pasta closeup
With fall here, I’ve been doing a bit of cleanup to transition into the new season. During that process I found a lot of recipes I’ve been saving up and wanting to try and recreate. Most recipes are fairly easy but I found a recipe that requires a bit of prep work.  I knew when I first saw it that I had to try it. This recipe has all my favorite ingredients: pasta, mushrooms and lots of garlic. In addition, this recipe is the by the head chef of the esteemed restaurant Gramercy Tavern in New York City.

Garlic chunk

It sounds fairly easy, right? I bet you thought garlic and mushrooms were just sauteed and tossed with pasta. Instead, this recipe requires you to make garlic oil and confit, garlic puree and mushroom stock. I hadn’t made anything this intensive in a while so I thought it was time to spend some quality time in the kitchen. 

Raw Spinach Pasta

Instead of using fresh fettuccine noodles, I replaced them with thin spinach noodles I had in the refrigerator. The garlic confit, oil and puree were made a few days in advance which simplified the work. But when it came down to cooking the spinach in the last part, I lost all patience and just tossed it in with the pasta, garlic and mushrooms. It seemed to work well and the end result was delicious. The whole garlic cloves were fairly mild although I’m sure my breath was potent the rest of the evening.

Spinach Pasta with Mushrooms and Garlic

Adapted from chef Michael Anthony
Serves 2 as a main course, or 4 as an appetizer

8 ounces fresh fettuccine, spinach flavored if possible
4 teaspoons garlic oil (see below)
4 generous handfuls mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (use any variety – crimini, shiitake, or foraged hen of the woods)
8 – 12 cloves garlic confit (see below)
4 tablespoons green garlic or scallions, shaved in thin rounds
1 cup basic mushroom stock (see below)
4 teaspoons garlic puree (see below)
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 cups spinach, loosely packed, stems removed
4 tablespoons minced shallot
4 teaspoons butter, cold, in chunks
2 teaspoons grated parmesan, plus more for serving
Chopped fresh herbs (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a rolling boil

Meanwhile, heat the garlic oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan until shimmering. Add mushrooms in one layer and sear without stirring. When the undersides are browned, turn and brown on all sides. Do this in batches if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.

Lower heat to medium, add garlic confit and green garlic and cook until tender, about 1 minute.

Add the mushroom stock and reduce by ¼, about 3 minutes over medium-high heat. Once sauce is reduced, add garlic puree and lemon juice and stir to combine. Turn off heat and reserve.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in another large pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add spinach and shallots and cook until spinach is completely wilted. Add a couple tablespoons water or stock if necessary to keep it moist while sautéing. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente, then strain.

While the pasta is cooking, reheat the mushroom sauce over medium heat and whisk in the butter to form a creamy sauce.

Toss pasta, mushroom sauce, grated cheese and herbs (if using) until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Divide spinach between bowls, and divide pasta on top. Spoon any extra sauce over, and finish with a few ribbons of grated parmesan. Serve immediately.

Garlic Confit and Garlic Oil

1 head of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
Grapeseed or olive oil, to cover

Put garlic cloves in a small sauce pan and cover with grapeseed or olive oil.

Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, or until garlic is soft.

Store covered and refrigerated until ready to use, up to three days.

Garlic Puree

Makes ½ cup

½ cup peeled garlic cloves
¼ cup whole milk
Salt, to taste

Place garlic in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Strain and repeat four times.

Return to pot and add milk, and water to cover if necessary.

Simmer until fork tender, about a half hour.

Cool slightly, transfer to a blender, and blend until smooth. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate until needed, up to three days.

Simple Mushroom Stock

Makes 1 quart

4 cups sliced white button mushrooms
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place mushrooms in small saucepan and cover with water. Add a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Simmer over low heat, half-covered, for an hour.

Strain mushrooms out, taste and adjust for seasoning, and store in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to one week.

7 thoughts on “Fall Cleanup and Finding a Super-Complicated Recipe: Spinach Pasta with Mushrooms and Garlic

Add yours

  1. Was it worth all the steps? If I get lazy and just sautee garlic in oil, add the mushrooms and spinach, and then toss with pasta, would I be just as pleased? I find with tedious recipes, the question isn’t really “is it better than the lazy route”, it’s more “does the extra effort give me a proportionally higher end result”.

    But, garlic puree and garlic confit in pasta sound delicious.

    1. I think the step worth taking a shortcut would be to buy mushroom stock rather than making it yourself — that was a hassle. And the garlic puree could be replaced with garlic from a tube but this puree was really mild.

  2. Hi Darlene, the end result looks amazing! All those steps seem a bit daunting for me. When I was reading your post, I was already thinking of how I could do some shortcuts, ha ha. Now where would one find mushroom stock?

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