I have had a total of five bites of meat or fish since Thanksgiving, two of which were given to me by my grandmother (thanks for pushing that prime rib on me, Nan, it was the best I've had) and the other three, mussels in a saffron-infused white wine reduction from one of our favorite east Austin bistros. Of course, I'm excluding the organic salmon I had in NYC the night Ryan proposed.
So that brings us to a veggie-versary of... four months this week.
Adjusting really hasn't been that difficult; in fact, I have really enjoyed it. But I'm still not completely sold on "meat replacements."
Tofu? I only like it in some instances. These include, and are likely limited to: deep-fried (popcorn tofu po'boy at Wheatsville Coop), stir fried, and as a component to the always-popular hot-and-sour soup.
I wouldn't have made it this far without the help of veggie burgers, though (the best of which I had in NYC at some fun Irish pub near Times Square; my favorite here in Austin is the Veggie Ends Burger at Billy's on Burnet). Seitan and I have not yet come to speaking terms. I'll eat it (vegetarian chili comes to mind), but I am not a fan of the texture.
All this to say, mushrooms rock.
They pack a nutritional punch, with vitamin D, some B vitamins, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, and zinc among the naturally-occurring benefits.
And here's the real kicker: their flavor can come across as, well, meaty.
Grilled portobellos? Yes, please. Sauteed button mushrooms in red wine and butter? I'll melt. And this week: what can only be described as a very close replica to beef stroganoff. My first words upon tasting it were, "Tastes like Hamburger Helper." Which is actually a compliment, considering I LOVED Hamburger Helper growing up. Seriously. It was, like, my favorite junk food. That and Funyuns. Together.
I digress. Let's call this dinner...
Farfalle with Creamy Mushroom Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup fresh parmesan, grated
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable broth or white wine
1-2 teaspoons dried herbs, to taste (rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme)
8 ounces farfalle pasta (rotini or linguini would also work)
salt and pepper to taste
Prepare onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Put a pot of water on to boil, and cook pasta according to package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the butter and olive oil on medium- to medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the onions and garlic, cooking until onions are translucent and soft.
Add the mushrooms and cook until they reach the desired tenderness (ours came out a little "al dente;" if you want very tender mushrooms, just keep cooking). Add stock and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Multitask: drain the pasta and set aside for a few moments while you finish the sauce.
Add the cream cheese and parmesan to the mushroom mixture, and stir until it is well incorporated. Once all the cheese has melted, add the spices and pasta and mix well.
Serve immediately, with a spinach salad on the side!
Note: I was going to make this recipe, but didn't have heavy cream on hand. Plus, I was hoping for a little healthier option. But that's where the general idea came from.