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what’s-in-the-cupboard pasta

February 12

On a recent weeknight I found my after-work plans cancelled, and when I got home I realized I had nothing in the fridge for dinner. So I opened the cupboard to see what canned goods I could cobble together for a meal. The resulting pasta dish was so delish I had to be sure to document my creation so I could make it again for a planned meal.

‘Cooking by feel’ is my favourite way to make a dish, getting hooked on this come-what-may method back in the 1990s thanks to James Barber, The Urban Peasant. Long before the Food Network, this half-hour show on CBC was a delight for those of the culinary sect with little time on their hands, but full on creativity. Essentially cooked and filmed in real-time with no secondary kitchen hidden behind the scenes, Barber effortlessly put together a few dishes each episode with mostly standard ingredients, with which most kitchens are stocked, in a hurry and with no fancy tools. I still often refer to his 1993 Quick & Simple cookbook that profiles the basic recipes as they were done show.

As you read the title below, yes I did just happen to have escargot, smoked oysters, and artichokes in the cupboard. A picky eater I am not.

fusilli with escargot, smoked oysters, artichokes, and mushrooms

1 package (about 400g) dried fusilli (wheat or brown rice pasta)

1 tbsp butter

1 large shallot, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 can (398ml) artichoke hearts, drained, reserving liquid (combine with liquid from other cans, below), roughly chopped

1 can (398ml) straw oyster mushrooms, drained, reserving liquid, roughly chopped (or your canned mushrooms of choice)

1/4 C dry vermouth (or white wine)

2 tbsp cream cheese

1 can (200g) escargot*, drained, reserving liquid, roughly chopped

1 tin (85g) smoked oysters*, drained, discarding liquid, whole

1/2 C 2% milk

1/2 C reserved liquid

1 tbsp spelt or wheat flour

1/4 C shredded parmesan cheese

salt & pepper to taste

  1. Boil pasta according to directions on package. Drain and set aside when ready.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add shallots, sauteing for 3 minutes. Add garlic, saute 2 more minutes.
  3. Add artichokes and mushrooms to shallots and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring as needed.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the cream cheese, stirring in place at the bottom of the pot until melted and the incorporate into the mixture.
  5. Pour vermouth into mixture, and cook for 3 minutes, until mostly absorbed.
  6. Add escargot and oysters, incorporate and cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Pour in milk and reserved liquid, stirring. Allow to come to a simmer, and let cook for 3 minutes. Stir in shredded cheese.
  8. Sprinkle flour over surface and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir and let simmer for about 5 to 7 minutes.
  9. Spoon sauce over drained cooked pasta.

* If you’re not a fan of smoked oysters, still give this recipe a go. The oysters mostly ‘melt’ into the sauce, but their smoked flavour makes the dish. If you’re not a fan of escargot, cooked shrimp would make a nice substitute.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12 9:26 am

    This is a great idea. Pasta is just perfect for this sort of approach. Sounds really yummy.

  2. February 12 10:19 am

    Indeed, such a yummy, and fun way to cook!

  3. February 12 7:35 pm

    Ha – I remember that show. Looks like a great pasta recipe – will have to try it one day.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    February 13 4:33 pm

    Do you have any leftovers?! Looks great Susan, and a great immune booster with the oysters packed with zinc.

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