Dear SOS: I took out-of-town visitors to the Beachcomber in Crystal Cove, and several of us ordered the spinach truffle mac and were awed with the delicious combination of ingredients in addition to the lovely setting. Is it possible to obtain this recipe? Thanks.
Dear Jan: The Beachcomber was happy to share its rich and creamy take on this classic comfort food, which we've adapted below. Enjoy!
The Beachcomber's spinach truffle mac
Total time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 to 8
Note: Adapted from the Beachcomber at Crystal Cove. Cavatappi pasta is a type of tube pasta, similar to macaroni; it is available at select gourmet grocers and cooking supply stores.
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons butter, divided
8 ounces sliced white button mushrooms, about 4 cups
4 ounces baby spinach, about 4 cups
2 cups heavy cream
12 ounces shredded smoked Gouda, about 3 cups
8 ounces grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese, a generous 2 cups, plus ¼ cup grated Parmigiano, divided
1/4 cup white truffle oil
1 (1-pound box) cavatappi or macaroni pasta, cooked and drained
Salt and white pepper
4 ounces (2 cups) mixed mushrooms, such as chanterelle, king, enoki, oyster and black trumpet
1/2 cup panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs
Parsley sprigs, for garnish
1. Heat a medium, heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add one-half cup (1 stick) of butter, swirling to melt.
2. Add the button mushrooms and sauté until lightly colored, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach and continue to sauté for a minute to wilt.
3. Stir in the heavy cream, smoked Gouda, 8 ounces pecorino cheese and truffle oil, and reduce the heat slightly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.
4. Toss in the pasta and heat through, stirring until the sauce is thickened and creamy. Taste and season if desired. Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.
5. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot. Melt the remaining butter and sauté the mixed mushrooms until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
6. In a small bowl, toss together the panko crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
7. To plate, divide the pasta among 4 to 8 oven-proof bowls. Top the pasta with the bread crumb mixture and place the bowls under the broiler. Broil the pasta just until the topping starts to brown, about a minute, depending on the distance of the broiler.
8. Remove the bowls from the broiler and top each serving with the sauteed mushrooms and a sprig of parsley. Serve immediately.
Each of 8 servings: 912 calories; 33 grams protein; 50 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 66 grams fat; 38 grams saturated fat; 199 mg cholesterol; 3 grams sugar; 893 mg sodium.