I have to admit to being completely stumped this month when I saw the We Should Cocoa challenge set by Choclette over on her Chocolate Log Blog. The February challenge was to come up with something chocolate, savoury and vegetarian. Not many things came to mind. Until, at the very last minute, I spied a packet of chocolate/cocoa Penne pasta and had a flash of inspiration! I found the pasta in my local Hotel Chocolat store (the smell always seems to intice me inside) in a little corner called Cocoa Cuisine, which including the chocolate pasta, cocoa nib balsamic vinegar and interestingly too, a black truffle and chocolate tapenade. So, I quickly swiped a packet of pasta (at £5.00 per 250g it is a bit extravagant) and decided to go home and cook it for our lunch with a creamy mushroom sauce (ingredients already in the fridge.)
The result – well, I’d say that the pasta has a much stronger aroma of cocoa than flavour. The taste is actually extremely mild. I’m wondering whether a spoonful or two or some organic cocoa powder in the sauce wouldn’t have gone a miss just to add an extra hit. The children had some of it plain, with butter and were quite excited about getting chocolate pasta, although at that price, I told them not to get used to it! Having said that, we each had a bowl making the dish (including the mushrooms and cream) something around £1.75 a head – s0 perhaps for a dinner party or a special supper this wouldn’t be so bad. You can also use the pasta to make sweet dishes, although the recipe included on the packet was for Salmon and Mascarpone Cocoa Pasta…maybe that will be next?!
I also asked my sister who lives in Italy whether she had heard of chocolate pasta and she said she had and told me about a ‘Chocohotel’ in Perugia. A quick look at the restaurant menu revealed Ricotta cheese patties with chocolate and sweet pepper cream and Pasta with cocoa and courgette – so two more savoury, vegetarian dishes to fit the brief! Perhaps it wasn’t such a wild idea after all!
You can use any chocolate pasta you can find in the shops.
Add a teaspoon of organic cocoa powder for an extra cocoa hit.
You could try 50g dried porcini mushrooms for a more intense flavour - pour some hot water over them to re-hydrate, drain, chop and use in the same way as the button mushrooms.
Bring a large pan of (unsalted) water to the boil. Cook the penne pasta for 9 minutes (or according to the packet instructions) then drain the pasta (taking out a few spoonfuls of the pasta water) and put it back in the pan.
While the pasta is cooking, melt a knob of butter in a frying pan and add the chopped mushrooms. Cook them gently, stirring, for five minutes.
Add a splash of white or rose wine, a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water and cook for a further minute. Pour in the double cream and cook for another minute, stirring. Grind in a twist of black pepper.
Take the sauce off the heat, stir into the pasta and serve in bowls.
Ren Behan is a British-born food writer of Polish descent. She is a mum to two young children (6 and 3) and spends lots of time with them in the kitchen. Ren writes about seasonal, family-friendly food on her blog www.renbehan.com and about Polish food on her site www.mypolishkitchen.co.uk. She also contributes recipes and articles to online and print food publications. Ren holds a Diploma in Food Journalism with Distinction and has completed a Food Styling course at Leiths School of Food and Wine. Full Profile on Google+
Error : Service is not available , Failed to load xml .
Hi, I'm Ren. Thanks for stopping by. I'm a mum of two and a British-born food writer with Polish heritage. I hope you find something that inspires you here. You are welcome to leave comments or catch me on Twitter as Food Ren @RenBehan
My Latest Video – Cake Creation
Simple and in Season Community Blog Event – Join In!