No flash, all substance: Pasta with mushrooms is a weeknight classic

Joe Yonan

THE WASHINGTON POST – Pasta with mushrooms: It was the default (and sometimes only!) vegetarian dish in restaurants for probably far too long. We’ve come a long way – now it’s entirely possible to eat out without ever feeling the need to declare a dietary restriction if all you’re doing is avoiding meat and seafood. That’s how many options there are on most modern, urban menus.

Exactly none of that progress means that pasta with mushrooms has lost its appeal. If anything, the dish now seems almost nostalgic.

At Felidia, Lidia Bastianich’s flagship New York City restaurant, it’s a year-round classic, with the mushrooms varying by season but often including beautiful wild specimens – chanterelles, morels and porcini – with, of course, freshly made pappardelle. I’m sure it’s a showstopper. Bastianich includes a recipe for it in her latest cookbook.

At home, on any given weeknight, I’m after something different. So I streamlined her recipe to use high-quality dried pasta and a mix of good old cremini and shiitake, available any time of the year. I don’t need a showstopper, after all. I just need an excellent, comforting bowl of pasta, and this recipe delivers.

PAPPARDELLE WITH MIXED MUSHROOMS

Pappardelle with mixed mushrooms. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

30 minutes

Four to six servings

At Lidia Bastianich’s Felidia restaurant in New York, chefs make pappardelle or fettuccine fresh and serve it with mushroom sauce – chanterelles and morels in the spring, porcini in the fall. But it also works well for the home cook using dried noodles and more commonly available mushrooms. Garganelli, rigatoni or penne also work with this sauce, as does polenta.

INGREDIENTS

Half teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

A quarter cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

One-and-a-half pounds mixed fresh mushrooms (shiitake, oyster and/or cremini), trimmed and sliced

Two tablespoons unsalted butter

Three cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Two teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Half teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

One cup no-salt-added vegetable broth

12 ounces dried egg pappardelle

A quarter cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Half cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, add more cheese for bigger serving

STEPS

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

While the water is heating, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the quarter cup of olive oil until shimmering.

Add about half the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they begin to wilt and make space in the pan; then add the remaining mushrooms.

Cook, stirring often, until they give up their liquid; then increase the heat to boil the liquid away and caramelise the mushrooms, eight to 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the butter and let it melt.

Stir in the garlic, rosemary, salt and red pepper flakes just until fragrant, 30 seconds.

Add the vegetable broth and simmer until reduced by half, about three minutes. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, add the pappardelle to the boiling water, and cook until al dente, one to two minutes less than the package directions. When the pasta is ready, use tongs to transfer it to the sauce, reserving the pasta water.

Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the parsley and toss to coat, adding a little reserved pasta water if the pan seems dry.

Remove the skillet from the heat, and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Toss and serve hot, passing more grated cheese at the table.

Nutrition (based on six servings):

Calories: 410; Total Fat: 17g; Saturated Fat: 5g; Cholesterol: 45mg; Sodium: 190mg; Carbohydrates: 49g; Dietary Fibre: 4g; Sugars: 3g; Protein: 14g.