This pasta dish is one of my favourite things to make when the weather turns a little colder. It is pure comfort food, and I don’t know about you, but we’re eating comforting food every single day at the moment! Good food and nice wine is really pulling us through during this rather strange time, and pasta feels like a nice big warm hug in a time when well, we can’t really hug. Mushrooms also happen to be at their best right now as we head into mid Autumn, so it’s a perfect time to take advantage of all of the different varieties available.
I like to use an assortment of mushrooms – here I’ve gone for mostly Swiss browns as they are a little more economical, and then some shiitakes as they have a really punchy flavour, as well as some lovely pink oyster, meaty shimeji and my favourite, chestnut mushrooms. It will still be delicious with just Swiss browns or whatever is available to you, so don’t fret too much about finding lots of different types.
Mushrooms don’t need to be washed, instead remove any dirt from them with a brush or wipe them clean with some paper towel. Be sure you don’t add any salt to the mushrooms in the beginning either as it tends to draw out the moisture which is what you want to avoid – save the seasoning to the very end.
If you have them, dried porcini mushrooms add such a great depth of flavour and richness to the sauce, and are definitely worth using. Any pasta shape you have will be more than fine here, but I do like a long noodle. I’ve used pappardelle but something like bucatini, spaghetti or even fettuccine would be great. I have a rosemary bush in my front yard and grow thyme out the back and the neighbours have a burgeoning bay tree that pushes out onto the street, so I decided to add these in at the beginning to give more flavour to the pasta, but if you only have one, or none at all, it will still be lovely.
JULIA’S mushroom pappardelle with mushrooms and crème fraîche (serves 4)
10g dried porcini mushrooms
400g pappardelle or any long pasta like bucatini or spaghetti
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
1 sprig of rosemary
1 fresh bay leaf
3 sprigs of thyme
400g of assorted mushrooms, roughly torn or cut
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
200g crème fraîche
Large handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Zest and juice of a lemon
Grated parmesan cheese, to serve
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with 100ml of boiling water. Set aside for 10 minutes so they can rehydrate.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of generously salted water.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a large pan over a medium-high heat and pour in the olive oil. Add the herbs and mushrooms and stir to coat. Cook them for around 3 minutes or until they are nicely coloured and beginning to soften. Try and avoid stirring them too much, you want to get a little colour on them. I like to put in harder mushrooms, like Swiss browns and shiitake first, and then a minute later I add softer ones like oyster, shimeji and chestnut in. Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute further until softened, taking care it doesn’t burn. If the pan is looking a little dry, you can add some more olive oil – mushrooms soak up the oil rather quickly so you may need some more.
Take the porcini from the water, which should now be dark and wonderfully flavoured, and roughly chop the porcini. Add these to the mushrooms, along with the porcini soaking liquid and crème fraîche. Simmer for a few minutes until slightly reduced.
When the pasta is just under al dente, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain. Add the pasta to the sauce, along with a little of the pasta water. Continue to cook in the sauce until the pasta is al dente. If the sauce begins to dry out, add some more of the pasta water. Remove the hard herbs, the rosemary, bay and thyme, they’ve done their job now, and then stir in the parsley, lemon juice and zest. Season with sea salt and pepper and serve with plenty of grated parmesan and an extra drizzle of olive oil.
What else I’m cooking with…
Grapes, of course just eaten as they are, but also put into a tray with chicken, olives and herbs and roasted until blistered and sweet.
What I’m eating…