New Year’s Eve is all about the celebration. Bidding farewell to the old while greeting the possibility of the new with glitter and glam, friends and family, party hats and noisemakers, and an endless buffet of fine food and flowing champagne. Well, traditionally.
Last year’s pandemic lockdown changed all of that. Most of us stayed home, curled up on the couch as the ball touched down in a subdued Times Square. And while we were all looking forward to a different outcome this year, dinner at home in front of the TV might be a repeat for many of us.
That doesn’t mean we can’t dress up and celebrate with fine food and a glass of champagne. We can! Especially thanks to a new vendor at the Larchmont Farmer’s Market, Fungi Valley. What a dream come true to be able to buy these glorious varieties of fungi at the Wednesday market. Of note, they are all fresh picked that morning. I took full advantage by purchasing 4 varieties; lions mane, pink oyster, maitake and chestnut, after hearing about the different flavor and texture profiles.
- Chestnut: More flavorful then button, crunchy and crisp
- Pink Oyster: Meaty with depth, hearty and succulent. A ham/bacon alternative
- Lion’s Mane: Pungent Nuttiness, sweet and savory. A crab alternative
- Maitake: Woody, tangy, delicate, feathery, flakey. A chicken alternative
I now had the makings for a vegan surf and turf for NYE. Perfect! I chose to marry them all together in this simple yet unctuous tossed pasta. Please note that this is a rich yet barely there sauce that just coats the mushrooms and pasta. I wanted the mushrooms to shine and not be overwhelmed by a heavy sauce. Nothing makes them shine more than a simple sauté in butter (vegan of course), garlic and herbs. Country Fresh Herbs always has a good variety to choose from.
These beauties do come at a price, as they should. You won’t get exotic mushrooms this fresh anywhere in LA unless you grow them yourself. Sold by weight in pint sized boxes, each pint holds about half a pound and is between eight and twelve dollars per bunch.
And the outcome? Absolutely divine! Each variety had its own unique taste and texture. Please note that dry cooking each mushroom variety first is important to release their water content to avoid a gummy sauce and water logged mushrooms. This way you can toss them all together once dry cooked to finish the sauce without concern that they will steam cook.
Happy and Healthy New Year to all no matter where your plans take you!
NYE Mixed Mushroom “Surf and Turf” Pasta
About 2 pounds mixed variety of wild mushrooms
Plant based butter (I recommend Miyokos)
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh cracked pepper
1 large finely chopped shallot
5 cloves garlic
1 T finely chopped Italian parsley
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp finely chopped basil
½ tsp finely chopped basil
1/3 cup dry white wine
3-4 T vegetable broth
Juice of half a lemon
Fresh cracked pink Himalayan sea salt
Grated vegan Parmesan cheese
10 oz. dry pasta, cooked al dente while making the sauce
Cut mushrooms in chunks and slices according to variety. In a large nonstick pan, dry cook each mushroom variety separately until moisture is released and evaporates. The mushrooms will brown a bit. In a very large nonstick pan, heat 3 T butter and 1 T olive oil until foamy. Add the shallots and sweat a few minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant about a minute. Add the mushrooms and a good pinch of kosher salt and cook until mushrooms are softened. Turn up heat, and add the white wine, and cook until it evaporates. Add the broth, lemon juice, and herbs, and sauté a few minutes. Drain the pasta, saving one cup of pasta water. Add a half a cup of pasta water, 2 T butter, and the cooked pasta, and stir up to emulsify and make a bit creamy. The sauce should just coat the pasta. Add more pasta water and/or broth if you want it saucier. Top with some pink salt and taste for seasoning. Serve in bowls, placing mushrooms in a prominent pattern on the pasta. Try to give each serving a mix of the mushrooms. Serve the vegan parmesan on the side. Serves 4-5 as an appetizer or 3-4 for a light dinner with a side salad and bread. Enjoy!