JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Mushroom and tarragon sauce for pasta

Lunch today was pasta with a mushroom and tarragon sauce. I wasn't quite sure about using tarragon, it's more usually paired with fish and chicken, and other people put it in bearnaise sauce (I keep meaning to experiment with a no-saturates tarragon sauce, but somehow never get round to it). I used it anyway, because the tarragon plants will run to seed if I don't pinch them out pretty thoroughly - at least, I suppose they will.

I'm not sure if our plants are French or Russian tarragon - the French are supposed to be more desirable from a taste point of view, the Russian is tougher and more likely to survive cold winters or neglect by gardener. As both cold and neglect are likely here, I rather hope that ours are Russian.

I went out to pick some, a great big handful, and then started wondering about which plants we have. I looked them up ... no help at all. But I did find a story that said Henry VIII divorced Katherine of Aragon because she was too free with the tarragon in her cooking ... so I chopped only about a quarter of the leaves I'd brought in. Then common sense reasserted itself - Henry VIII divorced poor K of A because after 24 years she hadn't produced him a male heir (& now forensic historians have found that it was all his fault). All the same, I didn't take any chances.

There was one useful thing I did glean from the books - tarragon is quite short-lived, and needs replacing every two or three years. Dividing in the spring is probably the easiest, but I'm likely to forget since it's 10 months away. In the summer, you can take cuttings of the growing tips, which sounds not too difficult.

Quick mushroom pasta

Chop an onion, and sweat it in olive oil. When it's soft, add chopped mushrooms (I used a small box - sorry, I don't know the weight). Keep stirring these until they are soft. They'll exude their own liquid, which will evaporate, so that the end result is fairly dry. If you want to leave them to their own devices for the five or so minutes they will take to cook, then add a tiny bit of stock or water or wine, which will stop the whole thing burning before the mushrooms start to weep. Once they are cooked, add some chopped herbs - perhaps thyme, or oregano, or parsley, or chives, whatever you've got, really - and some finely grated lemon zest. Serve with pasta and a dollop of 0% Greek yoghurt.

This is an entry for Heart of the Matter 3 - heart-healthy pasta dishes, hosted this month by Ilva at Lucullian Delights, send her your entries by Tuesday.


Freya and Paul said...

Delicious way to serve mushrooms, love the combination with the tarragon!

Holler said...

Mushrooms have to be my favourite food alongside cheese! I never thought of using tarragon!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

This is beautiful. Are mushrooms everybody's favorite? No I guess there are a few lame folks who think they don't like muchrooms. I however really love them. This looks like a beautiful way to feature them.

Ilva said...

Haha, you are right, better not take risks when it comes to things like that! Sounds delicious!

Maria Helene Schlösser said...

Since I have an amount of tarragon in my garden, I´ll give it a try. And sure, I´m very cute not to overdose it. :))

bron said...

Sounds good. Tarragon is also really good with cannellini beans and other fresh herbs like thyme and parsley and a simple vinaigrette for an easy salad