Luke and I are still adjusting to living in a house. So far it hasn’t been that much different than living in an apartment, but some changes are natural I suppose. I stand on the porch and stare at the lawn, wondering how long it’ll take before the grass is so high I need to try out (read: hopefully not break) the electric lawn mower the previous owners left us. I also think about where I can possibly plant a vegetable garden among the tightly landscaped flowers and how I will ever manage to get usable compost out of the bin out back.
There are changes indoors as well. Obviously the one most worth mentioning is our house bunny. Without the precarious, steep steps of a second floor apartment, our little bun is running free and loving it.
I am terrified of our basement and all the creepy crawlers that live down there. I brave it nearly everyday to use the elliptical (where my head comes oh so close to the cobwebby ceiling) and to access stored goods and the chest freezer we just bought. Still, I dread going down there.
Since Luke’s office is on the second floor, I have begun to receive texts from him…while we’re in the same house.
Oh pasta! So we’re back to carbs now; I knew I couldn’t stay away too long, though this one is much more of a balanced meal. This chicken mushroom marsala is light and flavorful, and could easily be served over rice or polenta. It’s also incredibly easy to make, so pick your carb and have at it!
Chicken Mushroom Marsala Pasta
Adapted from Meals in Heels
Makes 4-6 servings
2 lb boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into thin strips
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 large shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 Tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
16 oz white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup Marsala
14 oz beef or chicken stock
thyme leaves and parmesan cheese for garnish
Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat half the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the chicken, in batches, for 1–2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove and set aside.
Add the remaining oil, shallot, garlic and rosemary to the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5–6 minutes or until the shallot is softened. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes more or until browned. Add the tomato paste, Marsala, stock and chicken, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Garnish with thyme and cheese and serve.
When people ask me if I use a lot of vegetables in my cooking (well… let’s pretend people ask me that) I want to answer yes. I really do. I think vegetables are very important and obviously need to be included as part of a balanced diet.
But here’s my dirty secret. I claim to like vegetables, but if you listed them out for me, I’d probably make an “ewww, gross” face for more than half. I do not like tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, kale, artichokes, olives….and the list goes on. Sad I know. I had a courageous friend in college who would eat cherry tomatoes at practically every meal in the dining hall because he wanted to make himself like them. That’s too hardcore for me.
I like my vegetables starchy. My Nana always tells me my favorite food as a young child was peas. I still love peas. And corn, potatoes and sweet potatoes. And carrots, because they’re sweet. I also like onions, garlic, shallots, peppers, spinach and of course, mushrooms.
When I saw the adorable, and well manicured lawn behind our prospective house, I couldn’t help but fantasize about the garden I wanted to have there. But then I thought about my disdain for most vegetables…an herb garden perhaps?
Then I would have fresh thyme for this dish. Marsala and thyme are totally best buddies; like the peanut butter and jelly of the savory world. Their flavors are distinct, yet they meld together in the most delicate and delicious way. Add some mushrooms and cream, and you have yourself one delectable pasta topping.
Mushroom Marsala Pasta
Adapted from The View from Great Island
Makes 2-4 servings (and can easily be doubled to feed more)
1/2 lb fettuccine (or other pasta)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 large shallot, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup Marsala wine
1/3 cup chicken stock
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup heavy cream
several sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stalks, or 1 Tbsp dried thyme
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Cook your pasta of choice according to the instructions on its packaging. Meanwhile, make your sauce.
In a Dutch oven or similar pot melt and butter and olive oil and saute the shallot and garlic for a few minutes until fragrant.
Add in the mushrooms and saute, stirring often, for about 5 to 8 minutes, until the mushrooms are just tender. If the pot seems too dry, add a little more olive oil.
Add the Marsala and let it evaporate for a minute, then add the chicken stock, thyme, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Let the sauce simmer and reduce for 5-10 mins. If it still seems too liquidy at this point, add 1 Tbsp cornstarch and stir to help the sauce thicken.
Add in the cream, and bring back to a simmer. Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper.
When the fettuccine is just al dente, either add it to the sauce and toss well, or put it in a serving bowl and top with the sauce. Garnish with grated cheese and parsley if desired.