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Cremini Mushroom Pasta with Wilted Arugula,
Goat Cheese and Extra-Virgin Olive Oil 

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Cremini Mushroom Pasta with Wilted Arugula,
Goat Cheese, and Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Chef Alfred Portale

Chefs of the Times:
More than 200 Recipes and Reflections from
Some of America's Most Creative Chefs Based
on the Popular Column in the New York Times
© 2001 by The New York Times,
Edited by Michalene Busico (St. Martin’s Press)


“I recently created this pasta dish, spaghetti in a very creamy goat cheese sauce, on one of my rare nights out of the restaurant. I pulled an armful of ingredients from the refrigerator, gave them the once-over, and came up with this recipe. In the end
I liked it so much that I refined it at my restaurant and have made it many times since, both there and at home.
The dish is quick to make – you can prepare it in the time it takes to cook the pasta – and most of the ingredients can be varied. The pasta is dried spaghetti, but penne or farfalle work well, too. While the pasta is boiling, I sauté the cremini mushrooms. Cremini are as easy to find as plain white mushrooms, but they have more taste. (The dish would be even better with shiitakes or exotic mushrooms, such as chanterelles. Another choice for another day.)
When the pasta is al dente, I toss it with the rest of the ingredients: the sauteed mushrooms plus arugula, which can just as deliciously be radicchio or watercress; soft goat cheese, which can be replaced by half as much grated aged goat cheese
for a more intense taste; great extra-virgin olive oil (essentially it is the sauce, so it should be the best that you can get); and some of the pasta’s cooking water, which, just as in pesto, thins the sauce without diluting the flavor.”

 Yield: 4 servings
Time: 25 minutes, plus preparation time

1 pound spaghetti
10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Academia Barilla 100% Italian Unfiltered
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

2 pounds cremini mushrooms, trimmed
and very thinly sliced
Freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
3 cups tightly packed arugula, washed, dried,
and cut into thin strands
12 ounces soft fresh goat cheese at
room temperature, crumbled
4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil.
Add spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. While pasta
is cooking, prepare remaining ingredients.
2. In a large nonstick sauté pan over high heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil.
Add half of mushrooms and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Sauté, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add half of garlic and con-
tinue to cook, stirring, 3 minutes more. Transfer mushrooms and
garlic to a bowl, cover to keep warm, and repeat, cooking the re-
maining mushrooms and garlic in another tablespoon of oil.
3. When spaghetti is cooked, reserve about 1/2 cup cooking water
before draining pasta. Return pasta to cooking pot and add sauteed
mushrooms, arugula, goat cheese, remaining 8 tablespoons oil,
reserved pasta water, and parsley. Toss gently until arugula wilts
and goat cheese melts into a creamy sauce. Season to taste with
salt and pepper, and serve

Alfred Portale is the executive chef and owner of Gotham Bar and Grill
in Manhattan… These columns were written with Dorie Greenspan.

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