Even though most of my recipes are designed to be easy and family-friendly, sometimes I want to flex my culinary muscles and make something that deserves to be served with a glass of wine.
As I was perusing the latest issue of America’s Test Kitchen, I saw a recipe for Shrimp Fra Diavolo, a spicy Italian dish made with tomatoes, herbs, and peppers. I was intrigued by the flavors in this recipe, so I decided to make my own version with large gourmet mushrooms instead of shrimp, which is very high in cholesterol.
Fra diavolo, Italian for “brother devil,” is typically a spicy seafood sauce. To maintain the traditional flavors, I followed the recipe closely (except I added shallots and mushrooms to replace the shrimp), which meant including two minced anchovy fillets. If you’re strictly vegetarian or vegan, you can omit these, but I recommend including them. They’re tiny, but pack a lot of flavor (and sodium — no need to add salt to this dish!).
Another adjustment you can make is how spicy you want this dish to be. I typically like a little heat, but not an overwhelming burning sensation. I found that 1/4 teaspoon of dried chili flakes and one heaping teaspoon of minced pepperoncini (banana peppers) produced the perfect amount of spice for me. Obviously, you should adjust those measurements depending on your spice preference.
Whenever I cook with wine, I feel like I’m a fancy cook. And since this mushrooms fra diavolo sauce can be served by itself with a crusty whole-grain bread or atop your favorite pasta, this dish would be great for a date night! Unfortunately for me, my husband doesn’t like mushrooms, tomatoes, or spice. But other than that . . . okay, he would hate this dish. But I loved it! The fresh herbs, the spice, the tomatoes and meaty mushrooms . . . mmmmm!
If you’re feeling daring and want to try something a little different, give this mushrooms fra diavolo recipe a try. You won’t regret it!
Mushrooms Fra Diavolo
- 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 small shallot, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 t. red pepper flakes (more or less depending on your spice tolerance)
- 1/2 t. dried oregano
- 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry, minced
- 1 heaping t. minced pepperoncini, plus 1 t. brine
- 4 oz. mushroom blend
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Pour tomatoes into a colander over a large bowl and reserve the liquid. You may need to puncture and press the tomatoes with a spatula to release the juices. Set aside.
- Heat a splash of water or broth in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped shallot and cook until it starts to soften (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and carefully add wine. Return to heat and simmer until wine is reduced to about 2 Tablespoons. Add the reserved tomato juice and simmer 5 minutes to meld flavors. Pour contents back into tomato juice bowl and wipe out skillet with a paper towel.
- Heat remaining T. oil over medium heat and add garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano, stirring occasionally, until garlic is straw colored, 1 to 2 minutes. Add anchovies and cook about 30 seconds more. Remove from heat and add the tomatoes, mashing them with a potato masher until coarsely pureed. Return to heat and stir in reserved tomato juice mixture. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer until sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Add mushrooms to skillet and cook 2-3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in parsley, basil, and pepperoncini and brine and season with black pepper and salt to taste.
- Serve with a crusty bread or over your favorite pasta.
Now all this dish needs is a glass of wine! 😉