This ended up being one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever made. It has four components, each of which is very simple to make, but when combined together create this soulful explosion of flavor. The sauce itself is a version of one of the many different Veracruz-style sauces. It’s a blend of Mexican and Spanish elements (a hallmark of Veracruz cuisine), with the chiles for the former and the white balsamic vinegar and dried apricots for the latter. Technically, it makes three or four servings, but it’s so delicious, it really only makes one or two!
2 guajillo chiles, stems removed 2 ancho chiles, stems removed
Water to rehydrate the chiles (reserve the water when you are done)
2 chipotles in adobo 2 cups of the reserved chile water
3 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon of salt
The Mushrooms and Apricots
4 king trumpet mushrooms, sliced into rounds 1/4″ thick
2 tablespoons of mojo de ajo or 2 tablespoons of olive oil combined with 4 cloves of minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon of salt
8 dried apricots, sliced
4 cups of fusilli pasta (or other pasta of similar length and width)
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup of toasted, salted pepitas
Toast the chiles over a medium heat for about 30 seconds per side, pressing down on them with a spatula while they toast. Remove the stems from the chiles. Place them in a small pot and cover them with water. Bring this to a simmer and simmer the chiles for about 10 minutes, until they are soft. Drain the water away, but reserve it for use in the sauce. Puree the rehydrated chiles, the chipotles in adobo, 2 cups of the rehydrating liquid, the white balsamic vinegar, and salt into a smooth sauce. Set this aside.
“If you want a very smooth sauce, you can strain the puree through a fine-meshed sieve. It’s often done with these types of sauces. However, I like to leave it as is because I like all the little bits in the sauce.”
After you have made the sauce, slice the king trumpet mushrooms and the apricots, but keep them separate. Over a medium high heat, saute the king trumpet mushrooms in the mojo de ajo until they are browned around the edges, about 7 to 8 minutes (it may take longer if your pan is crowded.) Sprinkle them with salt as you saute them. Once they are browned, lower the heat to just below medium. Add the sauce and apricots to the pan and simmer this for 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken and condense around the mushrooms.
“Mojo de ajo is one of those indispensable ingredients for my kitchen. I cannot resist the roasted garlic and citrus flavors it imparts to food and the king trumpets are particularly good with it.”
While the oyster mushrooms are browning and the sauce is simmering, make the pasta and prepare your garnish by mincing the fresh mint. As soon as the sauce is done, place your pasta in the serving bowl(s), pour the sauce on top, and garnish it with fresh mint and pepitas.
“Mint doesn’t get a lot of love in popular Mexican recipe writing, but it’s actually a very important herb in the Mexican kitchen. It provides a bright, fresh contrast to many cooked dishes and pairs well with chiles.”
Fat 18 g
Carbohydrates 105 g
Fiber 12 g
Sugar 8 g
Protein 24 g
Sodium 633 mg
Pot and Colander for the pasta