Mushrooms remind me of my grandmother’s palm nut soup; bright and spicy and rich, I can almost hear it bubbling on the coal pot… thick and teaming meat, crabs, dried fish and mushrooms.
The mushrooms were my favourite; the kind my grandmother often used grows from the trunk of fallen palm nut trees – I loved the dense chewy texture and how it soaked up the flavour of the soup.
A few years ago when a friend was doing his thesis on ‘oil palm mushroom’ farms, I told him about my grandmother’s soup with mushrooms, and memories of my dad foraging for mushrooms.
I saw oyster mushrooms at the market the other day, and I thought of this restaurant I used to go to in Gastown and the delicious creamy orecchiette pasta with peas and pancetta I’d often order, one day the chef came out and told me that it was his mother’s favourite meal too, and whenever he went back home, they’d go mushroom picking for this pasta dish.
Seeing those oyster mushrooms at the market, suddenly the orecchiette pasta I got months ago didn’t seem like an impulse buy anymore. I knew I wanted to make something with mushrooms and the pasta, and a lot of other vegetables. I wasn’t sure of what the outcome would be until I started putting my ingredients together.
I used my favourite base, rosemary scented olive oil, with onions, garlic and tomatoes; and then added black beans and peas for protein and fibre.
Mushrooms are good for you, it’s a good source of iron and other essential nutrients, plus it’s low in calories. And here are five more delicious reasons to eat mushrooms.
Orecchiette with Mushroom and Black Beans
- 1 pound orecchiette pasta (a 450 – 500 g packet/box will do)
- 2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 1 pound oyster mushrooms, cleaned and chopped (or Shiitake, Portobello, cremini button etc)
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1/2 cup slow roasted tomatoes (or 1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup ‘pasta water’
- 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or less, to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups cooked black beans (or a 15.5 oz. can)
- Add the pasta to a pot of salted boiling water and cook until al dente, about 11 minutes (or follow the instructions on the pasta package)
- Drain the pasta and set aside, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water for use later
- While the pasta cooks, heat oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium high heat
- Add rosemary and cook for about minute, until it’s fragrant
- Add onion and garlic and cook until soft, 1 – 2 minutes
- Add bell pepper, mushrooms and peas, cook until tender, 3 – 4 minutes
- Add slow roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, pasta water and red wine, cook for another 3 – 4 minutes, give it a few gentle stirs in-between
- Add salt and pepper, check seasoning and add more ‘pasta water’ if needed, for moisture
- Add the beans and pasta, mix gently, lower heat and let it cook for a few minutes for the flavours to meld
- Serve immediately and enjoy!