Adapted from Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin
Living in Seattle, we get some of the best and freshest wild mushrooms in the country at our markets. The bounty of morels, chanterelles, porcini, maitake, and dozens of other varieties is astonishing. Because of that, I sometimes forget how delicious cultivated button mushrooms can be, but this recipe puts them to great use.
This dish is super simple to make. The critical step is in the final minute of cooking. Be sure to add enough of the pasta cooking water to deglaze the pan and develop a bit of sauce. If you serve this dry (or “tight,” as chefs say), it will be bland and chewy. There should be a little shine. You never need to worry about diluting your sauce with pasta water; the cooking water is seasoned with salt and has some body from the starch shed by the noodles, so in small quantities, it won’t make your sauces watery.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (use olive oil for vegan)
1/2 a white onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1⁄2 pounds white or brown button mushrooms, sliced a scant 1⁄4 inch thick
1⁄2 cup white wine or dry vermouth
1 pound linguine
Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated or cut with a vegetable peeler (omit for vegan)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flatleaf parsley leaves, minced or left whole
Bring a very large pot of well-salted water to a full, rolling boil. Warm your serving bowl or bowls in a low (200°F) oven.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a very large skillet (preferably not nonstick) over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and 1⁄4 teaspoon salt. Cook, turning occasionally, until the mushrooms release their moisture and then start to brown. Add the white wine to the pan and scrape the bottom with your spatula. Taste a mushroom and adjust the seasoning if needed. Reduce the heat to low.
When the mushrooms are nearly done, boil the linguine according to the package directions, being sure to leave it al dente. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking water. Drain the linguine.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the mushrooms and stir. Add the linguine to the mushrooms and mix thoroughly, again scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the pasta water a little at a time until the pasta is quite lightly sauced, with just a little sheen. You probably won’t need all of the pasta water.
Serve the pasta family-style in a big bowl or in individual bowls. Be sure to get all those delicious mushrooms onto the pasta. Finish with cheese, black pepper, and lots of parsley.
Yield: Serves 4
Recipes: Vegetarian, Pasta, Vegan/Dairy, Kosher