Spaghetti with Shrimp and Porcini Mushrooms in a Sherry Sauce

Here in Atlanta, it's rainy and somewhat dreary after seemingly endless days of sunshine.  For me, rain is the perfect excuse to spend some time puttering around in the kitchen. I rarely have a plan when it comes to making a dish from scratch. I prefer to cook off the cuff, based on what's available in my fridge and pantry.  When I made this, we were in desperate need of a grocery trip, but I managed to hobble together enough ingredients to make this delicious pasta concoction. I rarely write down my recipes [unless it's for my website], but this one was wonderfully earthy and memorable enough to warrant saving for another rainy day.

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Porcini Mushrooms in a Sherry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 12oz. Spaghetti
  • 1lb. large shrimp, tails removed
  • 8oz. [1 package] porcini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1oz. dried porcini mushrooms [international groceries are the best place for these, but Whole Foods also carries them!]
  • 1.5 cups warm water
  • 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter [I actually used Earth Balance butter spread, and it tasted AMAZING!]
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sherry wine
  • coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, optional

Directions

Prepare the pot of water to boil the spaghetti. Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in 1.5 cups  of warm water for at least 30 minutes, reserving the liquid. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pan over medium heat with about half of the garlic. Cook the fresh mushrooms over medium high heat. Don't disturb the mushrooms too much, so that they'll properly brown. Add the spinach, seasoning everything with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Sauté for a minute or two. Deglaze the pan with the sherry for another minute or two, scraping up the brown bits. Remove everything from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining butter and garlic to the pan over medium heat. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and sauté until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes.  Deglaze the pan with fresh lemon juice, scraping up any brown bits. Remove the shrimp and add to the bowl with the vegetables. Add the liquid from the dried porcini mushrooms to the pan and cook down over medium heat. [by this point, your pasta water should be ready, so go ahead and cook your pasta now]. While the mushroom liquid cooks down, squeeze out the excess water from the mushrooms, and chop, adding to the pan.  Add the rest of the ingredients back to the pan and simmer on low heat until the pasta is ready.  Toss in the almost al dente pasta [I like to slightly undercook mine so that it can cook for a couple minutes more in the sauce] and finish with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Serves 4