What is the most underrated herb?
Some herbs get all the love: basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano and mint were easy picks when I started my herb garden a few years ago. I also planted sage last year since it was easy to grow, while still mostly unfamiliar. I also really enjoy lemon verbena, although I only ever used it as a tisane (it would make delicious ice cream, though).
Sadly, most of my herbs died over the winter, despite living in the warm comfort of our kitchen. One plant was hardy enough to survive our kitchen winter and popped its head out again: chives. And despite growing them for 3 summers, I rarely used them in my cooking.
While I caved and bought some new plants last month (it was Red Russian kale! and basil!) at my local grocer, my basil has not yet grown enough for a harvest just yet. So, I improvised for this recipe. A chunky yet creamy tomato mushroom sauce. Yes, fresh basil would be delightful. I compromised. Instead, I used dried basil and added fresh chives. (I thought perhaps some pesto could substitute for the fresh basil but my Mom suggested going with the chives instead).
My Mom did not lead me astray: it was very good. This is a quick-and-easy chunky tomato sauce, with big chunks of tomato, chopped mushrooms and giant corona beans that I snuck in at the last moment. Just like when I made The World’s Healthiest Bolognese Sauce, nutritional yeast added creaminess with a hint of cheesiness. The dried herbs worked well and the chives gave a different twist to the sauce. Next time, though, I may try the tomato-pesto sauce, too – it isn’t a novel idea.
Although I wanted to serve this with soba noodles, the sauce was too chunky for such delicate pasta. Instead, I pulled out a chunky noodle. We have tried a few bean-based pastas, but this was a different brand and a different bean. Made with chickpeas but still fusilli, though. A fun shape and it worked well with the sauce.
Creamy Mushroom Tomato Pasta
Adapted from Oh She Glows
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups chopped mushrooms (I used 2 large portobello caps)
28 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
3/4 cup cooked white beans (I used cooked corona white beans from Whole Foods- this could easily be doubled)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh chives
salt, to taste
3-4 servings pasta (I used Maria’s Chickpea Fusilli)
1. Boil your water for your pasta.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Once hot, add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt. Add garlic and mushrooms and saute until the onion is translucent and the mushrooms have cooked down, another 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
3. Deglaze the pan by adding in the canned tomatoes (with juices). Stir in the beans, basil, oregano, thyme, chili flakes, nutritional yeast and chives. Simmer until the sauce has reduced and thickens, around 10 minutes more.
4. Cook your pasta, drain and add to the sauce. Serve warm.