Pasta with Mushroom Sauce
(serves 4)
Clean, slice, and saute over medium heat in olive oil:
16 - 20 fresh mushrooms
 
When the mushrooms have softened, but before they brown, add:
1 small onion, sliced
1/4 - 1/2 c cashews or almonds
and cook another 5 - 10 minutes.
 
Transfer everything to a blender and process until very smooth, adding:
2 c water or stock, enough to give a sauce-like consistency
1 pinch nutmeg
1/2 t paprika
salt, to taste
 
Keep warm in a thick-bottomed pot over low heat until ready to serve.  In the meantime, remove the stems from a large portobello mushroom or two, slather in olive oil, and saute over medium heat on both sides until cooked through and just starting to brown.  Pour in a splash of sherry or white wine and immediately cover and lower the heat to let the steam plump up the mushroom.  If you are not ready to slice and serve immediately, turn off the heat and keep it covered. 
 
To serve, stir cooked and drained pasta into the mushroom sauce and arrange servings on plates, topped with several slices of the cooked portobello and some shavings of fresh parmesan cheese.
Notes & Variations:
  1. Add fresh porcini (if dried, soften them in warm water, and use the water in the sauce), for a more sophisticated flavor.  If it is not too yucky, chop the portobello stem and add it to the sauteeing mushrooms.
  2. A clove of garlic never hurts.  You can also add a chopped fresh tomato a few minutes after the onions.
  3. Hazelnuts would be an interesting substitution for the nuts.