While my 9-year-old has always had a taste for adventure, she’s not been known for her adventurous tastes. No sauces, limited vegetables, no comingled ingredients – you get the idea. Then one day she blew me away by asking if she could please have a salad. A few days later when I was sautéing mushrooms for this recipe, she asked if she could try one of those things in the pan that smelled so good. What?! Aliens have abducted my firstborn and replaced her with a vegetable-craving clone! Fortunately, my 7-year-old is still subsisting on bread, butter and milk products so all’s right with the world.
Back to the mushroom pasta. The inspiration for this dish was all the stuff in the fridge that needed to get used up before a President’s Week ski trip: a box of crimini (baby portabella) mushrooms, half a block of cream cheese, a little cream, and half a box of chicken stock. If I had had some rotisserie chicken, I would’ve added it for a complete meal-in-one. (Meal-in-one = fewer dishes to wash!) For those of us happy with vegetarian meals, this dish is already a meal-in-one. With or without the chicken, I’d serve it with a simple green salad (and perhaps a glass of pinot noir). It reheats well for leftovers and probably would freeze well also.
Every time pasta goes on sale, I stock up in all shapes and sizes. One of my favorite shapes is campanelle, aka bells or lilies. I’m a sucker for the little ruffles, which get nice and crunchy on the top layer of a baked dish. I also love how the bell shape traps the sauce or filling. Feel free to use any shape pasta – even spaghetti would work.
Baked Campanelle with Mushrooms (and Chicken)
- 1 box (16 oz.) campanelle (or any shape dried pasta)
- Kosher salt
- 2 large shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3-4 Tablespoons butter
- 1 lb. white or brown (crimini) mushrooms, sliced (stems trimmed or removed)
- ½ teaspoon dried or 1teaspoon fresh thyme (optional but complements the mushrooms nicely)
- 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
- Splash (¼ cup) dry sherry (or white wine)
- ½ block cream cheese (optional)
- 2 cups chicken broth (16 oz. or ½ box)
- 1 chicken bouillon cube or 1teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
- Optional: 2 cups (+ / -) rotisserie or leftover chicken, shredded or cubed
- Kosher salt and black pepper
Cook the pasta according to package directions (using 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt in the pasta water). Drain and set aside. (Reserve some plain pasta for picky eaters.)
Preheat oven to 375ºF. In large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, sauté shallots in butter until softened. (2-3 minutes)
Add sliced mushrooms; stir to coat and then let sit in the pan for a few minutes to develop some color. (This really does make them taste better!)
Stir in thyme and garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more. Add sherry or wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Stir in cream cheese (if using), chicken broth, bouillon cube or salt and cream.
Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and stir in chicken, if using, and 1 cup parmigiano cheese. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
Combine sauce with cooked pasta and pour into an ungreased casserole dish or lasagna pan. Sprinkle remaining parmigiano cheese over top. Bake 20-30 minutes, or until top is lightly browned and sauce is bubbling.
Can be made up to a day ahead (though add about ½ cup more chicken stock if you do). Reheats well for leftovers.
As a side dish side note, the sautéed mushroom mixture would be delicious on its own – even without the pasta and cheese. Omit the chicken stock and reduce the cream to 1/4 cup or omit altogether. Serve as a vegetable side dish, or as a topping for steak, burgers or chicken.