Simple pleasures

Fungi To Be Around

Just as I was packing away my shorts, chucking out the sun cream and darkly muttering about the “nights drawing in”, the bloody sun finally comes out. I was conceding defeat and willing to go straight from Spring to Autumn (which is my favourite season, so there are positives). Now, everywhere I go people have stopped complaining about how rubbish our summer is to complaining about how it’s too hot.

This is further confused by my job. We generally are at least a month or two ahead when it comes to shooting ingredients or writing recipes. We shoot Christmas in July, Easter at Christmas, Autumn in Summer and I’m always having to find impossible ingredients. It’s nearly mushroom season though, and after a shoot this week for September, I have a great box of them. So here is one of my favourite recipes for pasta. Silky and earthy with a pinch of heat.

A good pasta dish can be hard to beat. I had a fantastic spaghetti alle vongole with bottarga at Mediterranea on the weekend with my parents. I could have been sitting in the square in Forte di Marmi eating it with the sun guaranteed, gushing on about how you can’t get food like this back home. But here we are, so instead, I’ll pretend it’s Autumn and get the umbrella out. At least I can also use it as a parasol if the sun sticks around.

1 clove of garlic, crushed
4 large porcini, sliced
2 handfuls of chanterelles
200g fettuccine al uovo
1tbsp dried porcini mushroom powder
1tbsp red chilli flakes
Good olive oil
A large pinch or two of chopped parsley
Parmesan to serve
Salt and pepper

This is such a simple dish, but make sure you go heavy on the flavours. Cook the mushrooms just right and this will be a real winner. You could finish it with a little truffle oil if you like, just to give it that little extra.

Bring a large pan of heavily salted water to the boil for the pasta.
Heat a sauté pan with olive oil on a medium heat and add the garlic and mushrooms. Season well and add the mushroom powder if you have any. Stir well and cook until the mushrooms have softened and are golden. Don’t let them dry out, but also don’t take them out too soon so they’re too liquid.

Cook the pasta until al dente, drain and pour through a good glug of olive oil. Stir the chilli flakes and parsley into the mushrooms, check and adjust the seasoning and stir through the pasta. Serve immediately with a drizzle more of olive oil and a good helping of grated Parmesan.

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