Whole Wheat Fusilli with Mushrooms, Fennel, and Pecans
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil*
- 1 pound whole wheat fusilli
- Fresh parsley
- Fresh tarragon
- 3/4 cup roasted pecans
- 1/2 cup white wine or water*
- *not included
- Prep time: 30 minutes
- Servings: 4
- Calories: 714
- Fat: 30
- Carbohydrates: 98
- Protein: 22
A light but satisfying pasta dish packed with vegetables. Pecans—an unusual but, I think, lovely choice—give the dish a rich, buttery taste. Plus, they’re a great ingredient this time of year because the southeastern US harvests the vast majority of the world’s pecans in the late fall. One note: when you cook the pasta, be sure you’re salting the water generously, as it seasons the pasta, and later the sauce, when you use the flavorful cooking water to bring the dish together.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Rinse, trim, and quarter the mushrooms. Rinse, trim, halve, core, and slice the fennel.
Put the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When it’s hot, add the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook, stirring frequently until they soften and brown a little, 3 to 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the fennel. Cook, stirring occasionally until the fennel begins to soften and the mushrooms dry a little, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and stir occasionally. Start tasting it after 7 minutes; it should be tender but not mushy. Remove about 1 cup of the cooking water and reserve. When the pasta is done, drain it into a colander. Rinse and dry the parsley and tarragon; trim the toughest stems and chop enough leaves to measure 1/2 cup parsley and 1 tablespoon tarragon (save the rest of the herbs for another use). Chop the pecans.
Return the skillet to high heat and add 1/2 cup white wine or water. Cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until almost all the liquid is gone, 1 or 2 minutes.
Lower the heat to medium-low and add the pasta and about 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water. Cook, stirring frequently and adding more water a tablespoon at a time to keep the mixture moist, until the pasta is coated, another minute or 2. Stir in the herbs and lots of pepper; taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve the pasta sprinkled with the pecans.