This trilogy started with a day trip to Portland and a delicious lunch. The meal included a meze plate that had a wonderful Italian black pepper dry salami. I made a note to see if one of the local markets might have it in stock. While at the markets, I found fresh mushrooms that reminded me of the risotto that I had enjoyed earlier in the day at The Blue Spoon. Now “home again, home again, jiggity jig.” From a successful day of urban foraging, I created a meal later in the week that was inspired by the forager, the chef and the market.
To start the meal I created an antipasto with ingredients from the day’s foraging adventure. Simple to put together, it consisted of pepper crusted dry salami, Gorgonzola Dolce with a drizzle of honey, Robiola Tre Latti, a variety of olives marinated with lemon peel, thyme and red pepper flakes, and marinated red peppers that were roasted on the grill. This was served with crostini and a dark raisin nut bread.
For the main course, I had purchased a large handful of several varieties of wild mushrooms…morels, chanterelle, oyster, shiitake and cremini. They were simply sautéed in butter and thyme to enhance their earthy flavor.
The mushrooms were tossed with an imported Italian pasta called Mafaldine, which is a pretty ribbon pasta with a rippled edge on one or both sides. It was named after queen Mafaida of Savoy.
Mafaldine Pasta With Wild Mushrooms And Fresh Thyme
This recipe is for two persons, adjust accordingly.
- 1/2 lb. of Mafaldine pasta (pappardelle could be substituted)
- an assortment of your favorite mushrooms, approx. 12 – 16 oz., sliced. I used morels, chanterelles, oyster, shiitake and cremini
- 2 Tbsp. butter plus an additional 2 Tbsp. to finish sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/2 c. chicken broth diluted with 1/2 c. water
- 1/2 c. white wine
- 1 c. reserved pasta water
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to the package directions until barely al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. As the pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a skillet large enough to hold the cooked pasta, and sauté the shallot and garlic until soft and translucent. Add the white wine, chicken broth, salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce simmer and reduce until pasta is done.
Heat the butter in a skillet and sauté the mushrooms, garlic and thyme until tender, about 5 minutes. Do not crowd or they will not brown. Cook in batches if necessary.
To finish the dish, add the additional 2 Tbsp. of butter to the sauce and stir to emulsify. Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the sauce to finish cooking to al dente. Add the sautéed mushrooms and toss. Add some of the reserved pasta water if the pasta seems dry. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired.
Because of the delicate earthy flavor of the mushrooms, I don’t add grated cheese to this dish when preparing it. I serve grated Pecorino Romano cheese at the table for anyone that wishes to add it to their dish.
I hope that you have enjoyed this trilogy. Remember that foraging, which is the act of searching and gathering of food sources, can be a pleasure. Don’t look at food shopping as a mundane chore but instead let it inspire you to create a great meal with the freshest of ingredients.