I can do without Mount St. Helens ash figurines and 26 flavors of salty/sweet almonds, but for as big a tourist destination as it is, the Pike Place Market still has some unique, delicious finds.
My most recent was Pappardelle's flavored dried pasta stand. They've got over 40 flavors, with basil-tangerine, dark chocolate, and Venetian calamari among them. I couldn't resist: I bought a pound of the porcini mushroom.
Then I just whipped up a mushroom sauce using dried porcinis and fresh shiitakes, because that's what we had on hand. I think quick sauces are always better with fresh, so the recipe below calls for 1 1/2lbs of fresh mushrooms, but you can substitute dried for half of the fresh in a pinch (like I did). If using dried, soak the shrooms in hot water for at least 15 minutes.
This sauce is one of the quickest, easiest sauces you can make, and it tastes great whether you use red or white wine, or dry sherry.
Alongside we had the very last caprese of the year, using a tomato we bought from the Bainbridge farmer's market, buffalo mozz I picked up at Trader Joe's, and basil that had been barely clinging to life on my plants.
I swear, though, this is the last time. So thank goodness it was frickin' terrific.
Porcini Mushroom Linguini with Wild Mushroom Sauce
1 large shallot or 1/2 red onion, diced fine
1 1/2lbs fresh wild mushrooms (shiitakes, morels, chanterelles, etc) sliced
3/4 c white wine
4-5 T butter
1/2 c half-n-half
1-2 tsps fresh thyme
1lb porcini mushroom linguini
Romano or Parmesan cheese for grating over the top
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.
In a large skillet, saute shallot or onion over med-high heat in 1 tablespoon of butter until golden (about 3 minutes). Add another tablespoon of butter to pan and add mushrooms in an even layer. Do not mix right away; leave mushrooms to sear in the pan. After about a minute, stir mushrooms and then leave them again to cook. The pan should be pretty dry, so if your mushrooms are sitting in liquid turn up the heat.
Drop pasta into water to cook.
Once the mushrooms have given off their water and are browning, season with salt, fresh ground pepper and fresh thyme. Add wine (and 1/2 c mushroom soaking liquid if using dried) to pan and reduce to just before dry. Reduce heat to low and add half-n-half, stirring.
Reduce slightly, then take off heat and add 2-3 tablespoons butter, stirring to combine.
Using tongs, add pasta to the sauce, allowing a small amount of the pasta water to come into the sauce pan. Stir to coat, adding pasta water if needed to loosen sauce. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and serve warm, with Parmesan shavings.
The last caprese of 2007 was fantastic. The buffalo milk mozz made a huge difference--it's so much creamier than cow's milk mozz. And even though the basil had seen better days, it did its job. Excellent.