I want to start today’s post off with an apology. I’m sorry for the recent lag in content. I generally plan a lot of recipes in advance, but the COVID-19 crisis made quick work of those plans. So, I’ve been rebuilding my content calendar from the ground up. And now, I have the added challenge of limiting the ingredients in my new recipes to what I have on hand. I am fully aware that you may not currently have or have access to the same things I do. So, I will be providing possible substitutions in each of my posts from here on out. With all that out of the way, allow me to introduce the first of my new (weird) normal recipes – Umami Bomb Spaghetti.
Let’s Talk Produce
Now, the first thing I’m going to tackle is all the fresh ingredients included in this recipe. They are as follows: shiitake mushrooms, onions – the pedestrian yellow kind, shallots, a head of garlic, lemon and shredded napa cabbage. If you don’t have shiitake mushrooms, cremini, white button, and sliced portobello will do. Light on onions? I hear they’re a hot item at the moment, so just leave them out or add an extra shallot or two. If you don’t have shallots, up the number of onions. And if you have neither, it’s going to be okay – just add a little more cabbage. And speaking of cabbage, any cabbage will do. The garlic cannot be avoided but a half rather than a whole head will do just fine in a pinch. And the lemon is simply nice to have.
Now let’s chat about condiments. My fridge’s insides are likely to be different than yours, so what’s commonplace to me might not be to you. But having said that, all of the items included in my Umami Bomb Spaghetti keep very well and are immensely versatile, so keep them in mind when you’re next at the grocery store. They will give you many good meals, I promise.
Miso is Magic
Okay, so let’s start with the non-negotiable: white miso. You can use red miso in its stead, but if you don’t have white miso, you’re probably not the type to have red miso, so yeah, not helpful. But the good news is miso is fairly commonplace these days. Your local grocery store is liable to have it and I’m almost positive no one has thought of hoarding it as of yet. It’s also virtually indestructible. Seriously, I’ve never had a container go bad on me. So, to sum up, it’s hard to make this dish without miso, but I also don’t want you to pop out just to get it. If you don’t have miso, maybe just keep this recipe in mind when you’re doing a larger shop.
Anchovies – The Begining of So Many Great Things
Okay, next up we have anchovy fillets packed in oil. We make quite a lot of Caesar salads in Casa de Keefe & Thrasher, so we’ve always got anchovies. We prefer the fillets but if you have the paste that will work perfectly. If you’re anchovies-less, you can sub a tablespoon of fish sauce. And if you don’t have that or you’re a vegetarian, I find sesame oil has a similar, albeit less fishy quality. Nutritional yeast is another good umami-rich option, although it does gravitate more towards the cheesy side of things.
Worcestershire Sauce – You Probably Already Have it
Next up, Worcestershire sauce. This has a good hit of umami with a nice acidic finish. I feel confident in saying that most people have a bottle of this stuff lurking in their fridge. And if you don’t, it’s worth taking on, especially if you’re a fan of stroganoff and caesars, both the cocktail and the salad. Also, like miso, it keeps indefinitely, so you’ll get a lot of mileage out of it.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, be aware that most Worcestershire sauces contain anchovy. There are vegan-friendly versions of the sauce available but you can also sub it out for a combination of soy sauce, lemon juice, honey and a ton of black pepper. See my recipe for Five Mushroom Stroganoff for more details.
Dijon – A Mustard Power Move
To round out the condiment category, I give you Dijon – my favorite mustard of all time…unless we’re talking burgers and hot dogs, then it’s yellow all the way. Dijon is such a good candidate for culinary underpainting. Its flavor, although bold and present, is capable of marrying with other ingredients in a non-combative way. But having said that, regular yellow mustard will work and so will dry mustard, so don’t sweat it. We’re aiming for delicious, not perfect.
Putting the Spaghetti into Umami Bomb Spaghetti
Now, let’s talk about pasta and cheese. I used real deal parm because it was good and plentiful when I did my initial shop. There doesn’t appear to be a cheese-supply issue and parm keeps for a long time and you can use the rind in stocks. So I think it’s a very quarantine-friendly ingredient. Pasta, on the other hand, well that’s another story.
Getting pasta is quite tricky these days. During my first round of shopping, I only managed to secure a box of lasagna noodles. I was a little more successful in my second round when I found a single box of spaghetti. What I truly wanted was bucatini, but I was grateful for that single pack of pasta threads. I recount all of this to say whatever pasta you have at the moment is a miracle and it will do fine in this Umami Bomb Spaghetti. Umami Bomb Rotini sounds a-okay to me.
So, that’s really and truly everything you need to know about this Umami Bomb Spaghetti. It’s a simple, approachable recipe that makes good use of resilient produce and near indestructible sauces and condiments. Oh, and it tastes good to boot.
Stay safe and healthy, and take care of each other one noodle at a time!
Umami Bomb Spaghetti
- ½ head Napa cabbage coarsely chopped
- 200g (7oz) shiitake mushrooms stems removed
- ½ large yellow onion cut into wedges
- 1 ½ tbsp white miso
- 3 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 head garlic top lopped off
- 500g (17.6 oz) dried spaghetti
- 2 anchovy fillets thinly sliced
- 2 shallots peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ lemon juiced
- Parmigiano Reggiano shredded
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Place the cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, onions and miso in a large bowl. Add a tablespoon of the olive oil and, using clean hands, massage the miso into the veg, taking care to hit all the nooks and crannies.
- Transfer the veg to a baking sheet, greased with another tablespoon of the olive oil. Create a space for the head of garlic and pop the sheet into the oven. Roast for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Set aside until ready to use.
- While the veg is roasting, place a large pot of water over high heat. Bring the water to a boil, salt it liberally and add the spaghetti. Cook according to the package's direction.
- While the spaghetti is cooking, pour the remaining olive oil into a large, deep skillet. Add the anchovies and place over medium-low heat. Cook until the anchovy starts to disintegrate, about a minute or so. Stir in the shallots along with a pinch of salt. Saute until just translucent.
- Add the Worcestershire and the mustard and toss to coat. At this point, your pasta should be al dente. Transfer the pasta from its cooking liquid to the skillet. Add in the roasted veggies and the butter and toss to coat, stirring in some of the pasta cooking liquid as needed. Stir in the lemon juice and taste. Season with salt accordingly.
- Divide the pasta among 4 bowls and top with shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Serve immediately.