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Recipe Thursday-Baked Penne with Mushrooms and Fontina

Posted on January 17th, 2013 | Posted in Main Course, Recipes

It seems like more and more people are cutting back on their meat intake and my sister’s family is one of them. This past Sunday I enjoyed Baked Penne with Mushrooms and Fontina for dinner, at their house. I have always been a fan of mushrooms and this dish allowed the mushrooms to shine. Their earthy flavor was distinct, since there were minimal other ingredients that could mask their flavor. If you are interested in cooking more with mushrooms check out this article about cooking with mushrooms. This dish is light, fresh and is perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Baked Penne with Mushrooms and Fontina

Baked Penne with Mushrooms and Fontina

Note: One shortcut that I learned from Cook’s Country is to use frozen spinach rather than fresh. This saves on prep time and expense and tastes just as good as fresh spinach in cooked dishes.

Yield 4-6 Servings
10 ounces spinach (559613)
1 pound penne (991538)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (992055)
5 garlic cloves, minced (991057)
1/2 cup onion, diced (990195)
2 pounds white or cremini mushrooms, quartered lengthwise (cut smaller if necessary to make bite-size pieces)
Koshert salt (CQS030)
2 teaspoons dried oregano (CQo075)
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (CQP101)
1/2 cup sweet vermouth
12 ounces fontina, cut into small cubes (775815)
freshly ground black pepper (Peppercorns-CQP071)
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (CWBE900)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Thaw spinach in microwave about 8 minutes. Place spinach in a dish towel and ring out excessive liquid. Boil the pasta according to package directions; drain well and place in the baking dish with the spinach.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in your largest skilled over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, onion, and half the mushrooms (or however much will fit in your skillet up to about a double layer). Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, the oregano, and hot pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are well browned on most sides but still meaty, not having given up all of their liquid. Transfer to the baking dish. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and remaining mushrooms to the skillet and cook in the same fashion, adding another 1/2 teaspoon salt. When they are done, add the sweet vermouth and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the skillet, for about 30 more seconds. Transfer the mushrooms, cooking liquid, and any juice and crispy bits in the skillet to the baking dish.

Add the fontina and several grinds of black pepper to the baking dish. Stir everything around thoroughly. If the dish is too full to stir, move some of the contents temporarily back to the skillet to make room for stirring, then return everything to the baking dish when well combined. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Sprinkle the top with the Parmigiano and bake until bubbly and browned, about 15 minutes. (You can prepare the casserole and refrigerate it, unbaked, for up to 24 hours, then bake when you are ready. The chilled dish will take 45 minutes to 1 hour to bake.)

Recipe adapted from Herbivoracious Cookbook

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