Pasta with Mushrooms

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 30 minutes

In many parts of the world, from Italy to the Pacific Northwest to Chile, you would think to make these, at least seasonally, with fresh porcini. Almost needless to say, it is an amazing dish when made this way, but it’s still a very good one when made with shiitakes or even ordinary button mushrooms.

Salt

1 pound shiitake or other fresh mushrooms

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons minced shallot or 1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 pound any long or cut pasta

1/2 cup vegetable stock

About 1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves, plus more for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Remove the stems from shiitakes (discard them or use them for stock). If you’re using wild mushrooms, wipe them clean or rinse them quickly if they are very dirty. Trim of any hard, tough spots. Cut the mushrooms into small chunks or slices.

Put 1/3 cup of the oil in a medium to large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the mushrooms and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to brown, at least 10 minutes. Add the shallot, stir, and cook for another minute or two, until the mushrooms are tender. Turn off the heat.

Cook the pasta until tender but not mushy. When it’s almost done, add the stock (or pasta cooking water) to the mushrooms, turn the heat to low, and reheat gently. Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water. Toss the pasta and mushrooms together along with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil; add a little more pasta-cooking water if the dish seems dry. Stir in about 1/2 cup of parsley and serve garnished with more parsley.

Variation

Linguine with Fresh and Dried Mushrooms. As in any mushroom recipe, you can enhance the taste of ordinary button mushrooms by using a portion of dried porcini: In Step 1, use ordinary button mushrooms (or shiitakes). At the same time, soak 1/4 to 1/2 cup of dried porcini in hot water to cover for about 10 minutes, or until softened. Drain the porcini and squeeze out excess moisture, reserving the soaking liquid. Cut the porcini into bits and cook them with the fresh mushrooms and shallot. In Step 3, use the mushroom-soaking liquid to augment or replace stock or pasta-cooking water.