The little trivia portion for this recipe says that “When Italians feel the need to look after themselves, they cook “al bianco”, or “white” food without the acidity of tomatoes.” So, since 1. I’m part Italian and 2. I’m not feeling well as I’ve got a cold, I decided to try it out. And it did make me feel better! Ah, the magic of Italian food! Now, I’ve never had spaghetti al bianco before so I have nothing to compare it to but this was really, really good and a nice change from tomato sauce! It was super easy to make too! Saute the veggies and add the meat, mushrooms, and stock and let it simmer. How hard is that? It’s not! The end result is a light pasta dish, with just a hint of lemony freshness at the end. Seriously, it does make you feel better…. as did the glass of wine I had with it!
So, since hubby is away and I have enough for like 8 servings I’ll be eating this for a while. Too bad he missed out!
Here is the recipe:
Spaghetti al Bianco
Source: Good Cooking, The New Basics by Jill Dupleix
Serves 4 (but those are big servings)
- 1/3 oz dried wild mushrooms ( I used a full 1 oz of dried porcini)
- 1 leek, trimmed
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 carrots, peeled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 thyme sprigs ( I may have added extra? I wasn’t sure what to do.. do you pull the little bits off the stem? throw it in whole? I ended up doing a bit of both… it was good anyway)
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 1/2 lb lean ground beef ( I only used 1 lb as that is what I had.. it was fine)
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- sea salt & pepper
- 2 cups hot stock or water (I used 2 cups of beef stock made with one of those Knorr cubes)
- 14 oz spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
How to pull it all together:
- Soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup boiling water for 30 minutes.
- Finely slice the leek and celery, finely dice the carrots.
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan and cook the leek for 5 minutes.
- Add the carrots, celery, thyme, and parsley, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the beef and cook, stirring, until nicely browned. Sprinkle with the flour, sea salt, and pepper, and stir for a minute or two to cook the flour.
- Add the mushrooms with their soaking water, discarding any sediment. Gradually stir in the hot stock or water, then simmer, partly covered, for 45 minutes or longer. ( I simmered for @ 1 hour)
- Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling, salted water until al dente-tender but firm to the bite. Drain well, then toss with the meat sauce and add the grated lemon zest. (Don’t leave out the lemon zest, it makes the dish in my opinion)
- Serve with grated Parmesan