There's no photo for this one. Hopefully you can picture it's tawny-leading-to-slightly rosy hue, studded with mushrooms and swirled around pasta. If you can't, no worries. It isn't the most photogenic recipe in the world, anyway, especially when dealing with my photography, which doesn't do much to elevate the mundane.
There is not, however, anything mundane about this recipe. I've been making it for a few years now, and it was originally a riff on a Giada recipe that used chicken. I have no idea where that original recipe is, but it doesn't really matter, because we love this one
"It" is a mushroom-y, figgy, mascarpone-y pasta sauce that is just right when you need a big bowl of comfort. The sauce is rich and creamy, and just a tad bit sweet and a smidge tangy, with an assortment of mushrooms to add bite. The add-ins are up to you. Even better, if you don't like the prepared fig sauce that I use for ours, you can find one that you do like, or you can make your own fig "jam" from dried figs that you rehydrate and spin in a food processor until it's sticky and pasty. Mix that with a complementary liquid, and you're good to go.
Mushroom-Mascarpone Fig Sauce
strand pasta, cooked and reserved, with 1/2 cup cooking water also reserved (angel hair would probably be too delicate here, but anything else is a go)
1 small onion, halved and cut into thin half moons
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb assorted fresh mushrooms, sliced (I like a mix of button, cremini, and trumpet for the different textures they bring)
1/4 cup white wine or vermouth
1/2 cup Stonewall Kitchen's Vidalia Onion Fig Sauce
4 oz mascarpone cheese
1 heaping tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Optional (all, some, or none!): sauteed chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces; 1/4 c dried figs, chopped; 1/4 c grated parmigiano for sprinkling on top
1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. When shimmering, add the onion. Cook until softened and starting to turn golden, stirring frequently, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, cook, stirring, for two minutes.
2. Add the mushrooms, and maybe some more olive oil if the pan looks too dry. Stir the mushrooms in with the garlic and onion, and then spread in the pan into as uniform a layer as you can. You want to get some browning on the mushrooms. (There won't be much, since your pan will be pretty full and mostly steaming, but if you're patient and leave them be for a few minutes, you'll get some brown spots.) Leave for about 3-5 minutes, and when some of the bottom layer have browned somewhat, stir. Make a well in the center of the mushrooms, and add the wine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates.
3. Make another well in the mushrooms, and add the fig sauce, mascarpone, and dijon mustard. (Add the dried figs now, if using.) Stir them together, trying not to pull in too many of the mushrooms until you have an almost uniform sauce forming. Once the three have started to blend, mix the mushrooms into the sauce. (This isn't 100% necessary, but I've found the sauce comes together better this way.) Taste, and add salt and pepper to your liking. Stir in the parsley, and then add the pasta. Toss.
4. If the pasta seems a little dry, add the reserved pasta water, a tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency. If using, add in chicken and stir til warmed through. Sprinkle with parmigiano, and mangia!