Vegetarian Recipe: Shitake Pesto

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Every week on the Good Food Blog we celebrate Meatless Monday by sharing a vegetarian recipe from our archives.

Eric Gower is a food writer and cookbook author. His book is The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen.  He first shared this recipe for Shitake Pesto on September 25, 2004.

Keep reading for the full recipe…

Shiitake Pesto

This earthy, caloric pasta is good on a cold day; it’s a good example of something delicious that can be made from a well-stocked pantry, on those days when the refrigerator seems empty. Break out a big Bordeaux or shiraz for this. Prep time, yet again, is less than it takes to boil a pot of water for the pasta.

  • Pasta for 2 (about 1/2 pound) pasta
  • 10 or 12 medium-large dried shiitake
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon cream cheese
  • 1 clove very fresh garlic, chopped (omit if the garlic isn’t superfresh)
  • 1/4 cup smoked/roasted almonds
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Several Tablespoons carrot juice or stock or pasta water, if needed
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Set a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Add the mushrooms to the blender and blend until you have a powder. Add the garlic, cream cheese, almonds, and olive oil. Liberally salt and pepper the mixture, and blend. You may need to add some liquid (carrot juice works well here) to make the blender whir. Taste again for salt.

Cook the pasta, drain, return to pot, and mix in the pesto. Taste for salt, and liberally pepper Top with the optional parmesan (it’s pretty rich as is). Good with a crusty white bread and a mixed-green salad. Serves two or three.