I know it’s been a very long time. Too long in that I almost don’t know where to begin. I have a sister-in-law who has been begging me to write again, desperate for recipes. Since Steve passed, quite frankly I haven’t been making many worthy dishes. Not good enough to share. I make up very simple stuff on the fly with parchment paper being my best friend and roasting being my go-to method, therefore dirtying the least amount of dishes while still eating healthy. It’s pretty lazy. But last night, I had some energy and made this oh so delicious dish, Farro Pasta with Portobello Mushrooms, Chicken, Tomatoes, and Green Beans in a Sherry Cream Sauce. It’s not a very pretty dish as it’s rather brown, but it was so very yummy.
My good friend Margaret gave me this pasta, which is delicious! It’s made with farro, instead of flour and I do love farro. Margaret loves this too, but her husband, Wayne, not so much, which she forgot about and bought it again, so I got to be the lucky recipient of it!
I made this combination, because that’s what I had around in the fridge and the tomatoes and green beans were added to give color. But they also added some super good flavor. The acid from the tomatoes cut the richness of the cream, while the green beans, lightly sautéed, gave it a nice crunch. The chicken was a smooth protein and I love using thighs as they are hard to overcook. The only way this dish could have been better is if I were in Tuscany and using fresh Porcini’s instead of Portobello’s. Now that would have been amazing and you probably wouldn’t even need chicken as those Porcini’s I cooked in Italy were To. Die. For. Seriously. I actually have never seen fresh porcini’s here, have you? Well if you do, buy them up and use, but they still probably won’t taste as good as they do in Tuscany.
WHAT DO WE DO TO OUR VEGETABLES?
Honestly, I don’t know what we do to our vegetables here but with all the gassing and packaging to make their shelf life longer, we must certainly lose nutrients too. We definitely lose taste. The best part of my time in Italy was being able to cook there with their ingredients. Every Saturday morning, I would start with a Porchetta sandwich, (yes! Even garlic in the morning, the porchetta was soooo good.), and then visit all the stalls for vegetables, cheeses and some very delicious pre-made dishes like round zucchini stuffed with bread crumbs, pancetta and vegetables – total yum!!
But here’s the thing, I had to learn to not buy too much, because the vegetables do not last long there. You have to be able to use most all of them within 2 – 3 days. Yes. That is certainly the maximum for leafy greens and maybe eggplant, zucchini or unripe tomatoes will keep longer. But their flavor is so much more intense, therefore more satisfying and much more delicious. And therefore, you don’t need to eat as much!
I do miss Italy. I miss my marvelous friends there. The pace is slower, taking in the enjoyment of each other’s company, coupled with the delicious food and wine, accompanied by the sexy lyrical sound of the language. Perhaps I will go back either this fall or next spring.
Back to reality, here is this simple but totally yummy dish of Farro Pasta with Portobello Mushrooms, Chicken, Tomatoes, and Green Beans in a Sherry Cream Sauce. This is a quick and easy one-dish meal, perfect for a weeknight dinner!
FARRO PASTA with PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS, CHICKEN, TOMATOES, and GREEN BEANS in a SHERRY CREAM SAUCE – serves 2
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 large Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and cut into chunks
1 – 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, washed, dried, and cut into strips
½ lb. green beans, ends removed, cut into 1.5” lengths
1 large tomato, cut into thick slices, and then chunks
¼ cup dry sherry
¼ cup of heavy cream
½ lb. farro pasta
Freshly grated Parmigiano and Pecorino cheeses
Place a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. When boiled, salt liberally with coarse sea salt before adding pasta.
In a large skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil on medium-high heat and then add the mushrooms in a single layer and do not touch them for 8 minutes. They will soak up the oils and then release their own moisture and turn a nice golden brown, but you must resist the urge to stir them. After 8 minutes, stir and push them to the side of your skillet and add the chicken thigh strips in the center of your skillet to brown.
When the chicken is browned on one side, turn over to brown the other. Add the sherry and let that cook down and then stick your face in the skillet while you inhale the marvelous aromas! Then add the tomatoes and green beans, cooking until bright green and still crisp. Turn the heat to medium.
Meanwhile, cook your pasta until al dente. Drain and save some pasta water. Add the pasta to the mushroom chicken sauce in your skillet, along with the heavy cream and 2 – 3 Tbs. of pasta water.
Then grate the two cheeses on top, stir gently to combine and serve in warmed bowls, with love.
I hope you love this as much as I did!!