I recently bought a cookbook that aimed to include highly nutritious ‘superfoods’ in each recipe – the book contained some interesting ideas and one in particular caught my eye; this one in fact.
Unfortunately, the recipe in question contained errors and omissions so I’ve corrected it, reworked it and made it fit to share here.
The earthy combination of dried wild mushrooms, fresh shitake, wholewheat macaroni and truffle oil is enhanced with the addition of chunky artichoke hearts.
I recommend using dried porcini and because I know what I’m doing, I pick my own but these days they’re available from good supermarkets; they’re quite expensive but strongly flavored so you don’t need much. You can use less expensive varieties of dried mushrooms but they’ll lack the punch of porcini.
Black or white truffle oil is also available in good supermarkets – keep it in the fridge to preserve its freshness.
The addition of Duxelles is optional. I make batches of this intense mushroomy paste and freeze it in ice cube trays for whenever I want to add more mushroom flavor… it’s totally worth the effort as it will enhance soups, stews, sauces, pizzas, mashed potatoes, steak, or any mushroom-based pasta dish.
TRUFFLED MAC ‘n CHEESE with WILD MUSHROOMS & ARTICHOKES
½ oz (14g) of dried porcini mushrooms
½ pint (240ml) of boiling water
2 tablespoons of black or white truffle oil
3 tablespoons of wholewheat or regular flour
½ teaspoon of sea salt
A good grind of black pepper
½ pt (240ml) of skim milk
Optional – 1 tablespoon of duxelles
4 oz (114g) of fresh shitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thinly sliced
3 oz (85g) of finely grated Fontina cheese
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, measuring approx ½ cup (120ml measure)
9 oz (260g) of frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted – or – artichoke hearts in water, rinsed and drained – roughly chopped
6 oz (170g) of dry weight whole wheat macaroni, cooked
Pour the boiling water over the dried porcini and set aside for 30 minutes. Strain and reserve ½ cup (120ml) of the soaking liquid (use the rest as stock for something else). Coarsely chop the soaked mushrooms, set aside.
Heat the truffle oil in a large pan over a medium heat then add the sliced shitake mushrooms – sauté for a few minutes until soft. Add the duxelles (optional) and blend thoroughly for a minute.
Add the flour, sea salt and black pepper – stir until a thick paste forms then turn the heat down and add half of the skim milk. Whisk until smooth then gradually add the remaining milk and the reserved ½ cup (120ml) of mushroom soaking liquid, along with the chopped soaked dried mushrooms.
Allow to simmer, stirring for 2 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and add the cheeses (save a teaspoon of each to sprinkle over before browning).
Heat the broiler/grill.
Once the cheeses have melted, add the cooked macaroni and chopped artichoke hearts.
Pile everything into an oiled gratin dish, sprinkle with the reserved cheese (add more if you like) and stick under the grill/broiler for a few minutes or until the cheese on top is golden and bubbly.
Serve with a green leafy salad with a lemony dressing, or your favorite veg.