While having lunch the other day, I was watching Ina Garten's TV show (no doubt a repeat) and she made this pasta dish. I don't eat a lot of pasta, but looking down at my boring salad and then looking up at this pasta dish coming out of the oven, what do you think I decided? I had to make it. That day and for dinner.
After driving over to Whole Foods for the pasta, I was ready to go. This is a snap to make, doesn't take much time to put together and only 10 minutes in a really hot oven to finish. Ina was right. Again. This dish was fantastic. All those cheeses, the slight bitterness of the radicchio, those garlicky shiitake mushrooms and the crisp pasta on top! Best pasta dinner in ages. And....how easy was that?
Conchiglie al Forno with Mushrooms and Radicchio
Barefoot Contessa, International Pasta; recipe by Johanne Killeen, Al Forno Restaurant
6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups (2 medium heads) finely shredded radicchio
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup coarsely shredded fontina (1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola (3 ounces)
2 teaspoons ricotta
6 leaves fresh sage, chopped (see note)
1 pound imported conchiglie rigate (pasta shells)
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Bring 5 quarts of salted water to a boil in a stockpot.
Remove the stems from the mushrooms and slice the mushroom caps about 1/4-inch thick. Heat 6 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet; add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Saute over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the mushrooms, radicchio, cream, cheeses, sage, and remaining salt.
Parboil the pasta shells for 4 minutes; drain and add to the ingredients in the mixing bowl. Toss to combine.
Divide the pasta mixture among 6 to 8 individual, shallow, ceramic gratin dishes (1 1/2 to 2 cup capacity). Dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and bake until bubbly and brown on top, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Ina's notes: In the absence of fresh sage, do not substitute dried. As a substitute, choose one of the following: 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh tarragon OR 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves OR 8 leaves fresh rosemary OR 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed.
Makes about 5-6 servings.