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Pasta with Miso Butter


I try to get outside my circle of experience when cooking as often as possible. Though the parameters of my kitchen experience may be broad, I find new doors to open daily. My goal is to help open doors for those with a spirit of culinary adventure. My idea is to find recipes that bring a new experience in a doable format. This means I take a recipe or a menu from a restaurant and translate it into a dish made at home without the special equipment and vast ingredients of a commercial kitchen.

Today I suggest a bowl of pasta with ingredients not imagined together. Miso and other Asian ingredients paired with some of an Italian dish. This may seem strange but, believe me, they marry well. In this case I use firm tofu as the feature protein but you can use shrimp or chicken. It is a vegetarian dish if you eat dairy but, if not, there are substitutions for vegan. That said, I have little experience with vegan butter and cheese substitutes so no guarantees.

I suggest crimini mushrooms but most any mushroom will do. If you want to use portobello mushrooms, remember to scrape out the gills and discard before cooking. Otherwise the dish will be discolored and visually unappealing. If you can find ramps for this recipe, that’s great. If not, scallions or green onions will do just fine. This recipe comes together in a few minutes, so you can start cooking the pasta when you begin cooking the sauce ingredients, 10 to 12 minutes. Be sure you have all ingredients assembled before you begin cooking the pasta.



  • 1 pound stick pasta. Just for fun, pick a larger shape and maybe something other than your usual

  • 1 pound firm tofu cut into 1/2 inch cubes and drained on paper towels

  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick

  • 1 small Fresno chili pepper or jalapeño finely minced (or substitute 1 teaspoon Gochujang paste)

  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed and minced

  • 10 or 12 ramps, cleaned and rough chopped (or substitute an equal amount of scallions)

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

  • 3 tablespoons sweet white miso

  • 1 tablespoon Shoyu or other soy sauce

  • 4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for service

  • 1 ¼ cups pasta cooking water

  • ½ cup toasted panko crumbs (cook the panko in 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat with some salt and pepper until golden)


  • Prepare the panko crumbs and set aside

  • Place a pot of well salted water on the stove to cook the pasta and bring to a boil

  • Begin cooking the pasta

  • In a large sauté pan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium high heat and cook the mushrooms along with the Fresno pepper and the garlic

  • Add the tofu and the ramps to the sauté pan and toss a few times

  • Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together the miso, Shoyu and the Parmesan along with the pasta water

  • Add the miso mixture to the sauté pan and swirl in the remaining butter

  • Immediately add the cooked and drained pasta to the pan and toss or stir until well coated. If you prefer, you can add a little more pasta water if the sauce seems too thick

  • Serve in warm bowls topped with the toasted panko crumbs on top and some more Parmesan if desired

This dish has the comfort of a warm bowl of chewy pasta with some new flavor combinations. I’ll soon make a version of this with shrimp or scallops. For some interesting garnish, try frying some shiso leaves until crispy and crumble them over the top or even a flourish of furikaki Japanese seasoning.