a dinner with friends: fragrant mushroom ragout, spaghetti with white beans, and a {dressed up} salad

a delicious vegetarian dinner with friends: citrusy salad, spaghetti with white beans, and mushroom ragout

for us, there are few things more enjoyable than small intimate dinners at home with friends. all you really need to make these gatherings special is simple delicious food (and drinks), fragrant flowers (my personal favorite factor), candlelight, and of course, good friends! we gathered with a few of ours last night to enjoy a dinner planned around the most inspiring seasonal produce (the ones that called to me at the market) i was able to find: ripe yellow and green heirloom tomatoes, crunchy and tender fennel bulbs, locally grown butter lettuce, fresh cayenne peppers, organic rainbow radishes, fresh parsley and thyme, and a variety of mushrooms. it was a good night. we ate and ate, shared great stories, and laughed a lot. as an additional bonus, we have leftovers for tonight. now that’s a great thing.
for a {light & easy} appetizer, we had: radishes with sea salt, sweet figs, gruyere cheese, sliced fennel bulbs, navel orange slices, and toasted multi grain bread. simple, fresh, delicious-and not too filling!
one of my favorite cookbooks is “The Heart of the Artichoke” by David Tanis-and the salad was an adaptation of his sicilian salad. it combines butter lettuce, thinly sliced fennel & radishes, peeled & sliced navel oranges, and lots of fresh mint leaves.

for the dressing i used my own lemon-shallot vinaigrette:
whisk together: 

  • 3-4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 tsp finely minced shallot (allow shallot to marinate in the dressing for at least 20-30 minutes prior to serving)
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard, sea salt, & freshly ground pepper


with the mushroom medley, i made a simple ragout (recipe for 6 servings):


  • a combination of crimini, white, oyster, and bunapi mushrooms sliced and/or separated (a total of 3-4 cups, raw)
  • 1 thinly sliced onion
  • 2 finely minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme (separated leaves) & rosemary (finely minced)
  • 1 cup good quality tomato sauce (puree) or 3-4 tbs tomato paste mixed with water
  • 1.5 tbs whole wheat flour
  • sea salt & pepper (to taste)
1. in a heavy pot heat the olive oil, then add the onions and sautee, stirring continuously on high heat (until golden) for 3-5 minutes, then add the garlic and allow the mixture to cook for a minute before adding the mushrooms. sautee the mushrooms on high heat while stirring carefully until softened and reduced (and there is no liquid in the pot). add the herbs, sea salt, and pepper, and combine well.
2. add the tomato sauce (you may have to adjust the amount) and allow the mixture to simmer on low heat for a few minutes (5-7), then sprinkle with the flour and combine well. the flour will thicken the sauce. remove from the heat and pour into a baking dish (unless you are using a dutch oven). sprinkle with a tbs or two of good parmesan or gruyere cheese. bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes before serving.
for the spagetti aglio e olio with chopped heirloom tomatoes, white beans, and parsley (6-8 servings):
  • 1/4 cup hot aglio e olio: 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2-3 crushed cloves of garlic, 1 whole cayenne pepper, sliced down the middle (see the recipe and story about aglio-olio here)
  • 1 large yellow, and 2-3 small green heirloom tomatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup cooked white beans (soak the beans overnight, then cook in lightly salted water for about 45 minutes to an hour until tender-or you can used canned if necessary)
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • grated fresh parmesan cheese
  • 1 package spaghetti, cooked al dente
combine chopped tomatoes and cooked beans with salt, pepper, and 2/3 of the parsley in a bowl. make your aglio e olio, remove garlic and pepper, and pour it while sizzling hot over the tomato mixture. taste and adjust the salt. simple as that. pour your sauce mixture over your cooked hot pasta, sprinkle with more fresh parsley and cheese. a tiny little squeeze of fresh lemon juice does not hurt. serve right away. you will make this again. guaranteed- – -oh! we also had tuscan style roast chicken-coming up in a following post, soon. buon appetito!
and for dessert: (shameful confession)-store bought mini chocolate cupcakes dressed up with red flower (geranium) petals…my small contribution!
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One thought on “a dinner with friends: fragrant mushroom ragout, spaghetti with white beans, and a {dressed up} salad

  1. Pingback: quick & easy {delicious} mushroom salad | Cooking Minette

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