Toasted Angel Hair Pasta in Shiitake Broth 

1/2 lb angel hair pasta (capellini)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stems removed caps sliced
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked, stems reserved
3 sprigs thyme
l tsp (5mL) black peppercorns
4 large shallots, peeled and sliced
Kosher salt
2 cups stock
1/4 cup chives, cut in 1/2" lengths

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Put pasta on a baking sheet, coat it with one tablespoon of the olive oil and then spread it out in a single layer. Bake until the pasta is golden, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

1. Wrap up the mushroom stems, parsley stems, garlic, thyme, and peppercorns in a square of cheesecloth and set the sachet aside.

2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the sliced shiitakes and cook until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Season the mushrooms with salt, then transfer them to a large saucepan.

3. Add the sachet, the stock, and 2 cups of water to the mushrooms. Bring to a simmer and cook until the broth has a nice mushroom taste, about 15 minutes. Discard the sachet.

Break the pasta in half and add it to the simmering broth. Cook just until the pasta is done, about 5 minutes.

Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary, then ladle the broth and pasta into bowls. Serve garnished with parsley leaves and chives.

Cooking notes: Because they I are always available, shiitake mushrooms are called for in this recipe, though any mushroom will work, including cultivated mushrooms such as cremini or portobellos. Morrels, porcini and mousserons are delicious, but should be used singly, not together. Hen-of-the-woods, oyster, and chanterelle mushrooms are nice, especially as a garnish.

You can make this recipe in two parts, preparing the broth and toasting your pasta in advance.

Forley pours a bit of olive oil into her palms. Picking up small batches of the pasta, she rubs the strands back and forth between her hands until every piece is well coated. Then she spreads out the pasta on a baking sheet in one thin, even layer, and lifts the tray into the oven. “The idea of toasting pasta,” she says, “comes from the Spanish technique, in which thin noodles are coated, then baked, to give them a nutty flavour.” It’s the same reason she explains, that recipes for Italian risotto call for sautéing the rice before adding broth to it. “The oil forms a protective seal that prevents too much liquid from being absorbed into the starch.” The technique prevents the angel hair from becoming overcooked and, Forley says, makes this dish, “absolutely foolproof.”

Once the pasta is baked, the Spanish will often braise it in fish broth, adding texture to a powerfully flavoured stock. “it is exactly what we’re doing here” Forley says except, in this recipe, we’re featuring a rich mushroom dish rather than highlighting fish.

To this end, Forley begins working on her stock, sautéing the shallots in olive oil until they’re caramelized and sweet. Next, she adds the shiitakes, then throws a gauzy white sachet that she prepared earlier into the pan. Packed with the stems of the mushrooms, as well as garlic and thyme, the package looks like a tea bag and has the same function. All of her soups, she explains, are seasoned this way because “sachets allow you to add the flavour of ingredients — garlic cloves, rosemary leaves, and peppercorns — without including particles of them that you might otherwise not want”

After about 15 minutes, Forley peeks into her oven, where the angel-hair pasta has turned a luminous, russet brown. “The darker you toast it, the nuttier its flavour becomes,” she says, as she removes it from the oven. Then Forley drops the dark strands into the simmering mushroom broth. “Cooking the pasta right in the mushroom liquid infuses the angel hair with the mushroom’s rich flavour”

It also makes for a dish of brilliantly composed flavour. Once the pasta is cooked, Forley ladles the broth into a shallow bowl, then adorns the dish with chopped chives and a few robust spinach leaves. A single taste is mesmerizing.
Each mouthful offers the texture of noodles that are perfectly defined, hundreds of slender strands rolling along my tongue. Set off by the shiitakes, this silky mushroom stew, delectable vegetable bouillabaisse, or sophisticated fungi hotpot defies description.

Source of recipe: Peter