Wednesday, October 29, 2008

thanksgiving and pasta??

last week i wrote about my love of thanksgiving and told you that it is my favorite holiday. this day is spent with a big group of people..sometimes family if we travel to southern california..but usually we celebrate the day with good friends here in napa..(then we go to pasadena for christmas)...last year was a very different kind of day....you see, on september 10, 2007, my mom's sister, beverly leclaire, passed away after a very courageous and hard-fought battle with ovarian cancer. bev was more than my aunt..she was also my godmother and a very good friend...i loved her very much . she was also one of the kindest and most decent people i have known. she spent her last two weeks at home surrounded by her family...

most of my family lives in southern california near her house..so..while they visited every day..they went home at night. i came down from napa..and because we did not want her husband, my uncle paul, to be alone with her at night..i stayed at their house...one day i will tell you about bev...her life..and the way she died..her grace, her poise..her dignity...it was a privilege to spend the last two weeks with her...and her story deserves to be told..but this post is about last year and that thanksgiving..as i said, she died in september...we held her memorial in october to give everyone from out-of-state time to arrange their travel plans...that month passed by in a blur..so by november, i was still grieving..and not at all into the "holiday season"..i just wanted to ignore the whole thing. my husband peter and i decided to go out to dinner on thanksgiving..just the two of us. we had a lovely evening..we toasted bev..and spent dinner talking about everything we were grateful for...it was just the soothing balm i needed..i cried a bit..laughed a lot...and felt the true meaning of the thanksgiving holiday...
peter ordered the traditional thanksgiving feast..and i opted for the vegetarian choice...same as peter's but a grilled portobello mushroom replaced the turkey. the dinner was delicious..and i decided to ensure a wonderful vegetarian main dish was always available at future t-day celebrations in addition to the turkey and expected trimmings. this year i am going to serve my baked wild mushroom pasta dish...it is really, really good..and non-vegetarians will love it too...thanksgiving will once again be celebrated the traditional way...but we will all raise a glass and toast my wonderful aunt..

so..in honor of my aunt bev...happy thanksgiving everyone...

baked wild mushroom pasta with parmesan and panko gratin

1/2 oz mixed wild mushroom dried pasta
3/4 c boiling hot water
3 1/2 oz panko bread crumbs (japanese style bread crumbs)
1/2 c grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/4 c minced flat leaf parsley
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c diced roma tomatoes
1/4 c carrot, finely minced
1 lb portobello mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 c dry white wine
1/2 c parmigiano reggiano cheese, shredded
1/2 lb rotelli pasta
(if possible, use organic vegetables..you really can taste the difference)

preheat oven to 425 degrees F.. butter a 3 quart baking dish and set aside.
put dried wild mushrooms in boiling water and allow to soak for 15 minutes.
place panko in a rimmed baking sheet and spread out to ensure crumbs are in thin even layer. place in oven and bake until golden brown, 5-7 minutes. (stir 2-3 times while cooking). remove from oven and allow to cool..then add 1/2 c grated cheese, parsley, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and two garlic cloves, minced. set aside
drain mushrooms and reserve soaking liquid. dry mushrooms with a paper towel and chop.
place butter and remaining olive oil in large skillet and heat until butter melts..add onion and garlic and cook over med heat until softened and golden brown..do not let garlic burn..add tomatoes, carrot and portobello mushrooms and cook until vegetables are softened and released mushroom juice is evaporated...approx 10 minutes. add tomato paste, remaining salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and white wine. stir well and cook until wine is reduced by about half. add wild mushrooms and the reserved soaking liquid. cook until liquid has reduced by half. while mushroom mixture is simmering, cook pasta is a large pot of boiling, well salted water until al dente. drain pasta and add to wild mushroom mixture, stir well. add remaining cheese and stir again. put pasta/mushroom mixture in buttered baking dish. sprinkle panko/cheese topping evenly over pasta and bake, uncovered for 20 minutes, or until crumbs are golden brown..let sit for 5 minutes to allow juices to absorb into pasta and then serve..
hope you enjoyed the latest in the napa farmhouse 1885 thanksgiving series™...i invite you to share your holiday memories in the comments section of this post..

best,
diane

napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style"™

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7 comments:

bethany said...

This story made me cry. Really, really beautiful and touching. I also plan to make the mushroom dish. I love your blog!

Dianne said...

Your Aunt Bev sounds like she was an amazing person! I'm glad that you got to spend the last two weeks with her.

This dish also look amazing! Yum!

rose said...

Yum! This pasta dish looks so good. I will definitely give it a try. But not going to wait for Thanksgiving. Thank you for telling us about your aunt.

casalba said...

A lovely post, Diane - very moving.

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi bethany and welcome..thank you for your comments...

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks again dianne..for your post..and your comments..let's do it again soon!!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks rose and sally, for taking the time to comment! appreciate it...
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