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penne with wild mushrooms

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I like to think I’m quite a hygienic person but there are some things I refuse to wash. Soft fruit for once – raspberries just get impossibly soggy when you wash them, so if wash I must (as in: not the fruit from my garden) I then elaborately spread them on paper towels in a single layer to dry as much as they can. Still taste better unwashed.

The same applies to mushrooms – try washing mushrooms and then sautéing them – disaster. Soup. Soggy Central. No flavour. Cup champignons are ruined when washed, let alone wild fungi – they are not so easy to come by in the UK so they need to be treated with respect.

I mean – if they are REALLY covered in soil, mud, virtually having brought half the forest with them – go for it. Rinse them gently in a bowl of cold water but then do try to dry them thoroughly on trays lined with paper towels.

But if they only have an odd pine needle or a clump of moss stuck to them, don’t let them near water. Get a pastry brush or a soft vegetable brush, several paper towels and lovingly brush off all the dirt and soil – and they’ll repay you with their flavour.

A very simple dish – good ingredients don’t need elaborate processing, and fresh wild mushrooms are as good as it gets.

  • INGREDIENTS
  • 80-90g dried pasta per person (penne here)
  • 200g fresh wild mushrooms (chanterelles, pied-de-mouton, ceps)
  • a knob of butter
  • a few sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped very finely
  • 2-3 tbsp double cream
  • 20g freshly grated parmesan

Pasta and mushrooms

METHOD
Clean the mushrooms with a vegetable or pastry brush, don’t wash them unless really soiled. Slice them into bite-size pieces.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan or wok, add the mushrooms when the butter’s foaming. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring frequently. When they’ve released and absorbed again the juices, turn the heat down, add the parsley and the cream, stir thoroughly in and cook a little longer on low heat.

Cooking pasta and mushrooms

Cook the pasta in plenty of salty water according to the instructions on the packet. Drain with slotted spoon and add straight into the mushrooms kept on very low heat, sloshing in a little cooking water.  Turn the heat up and cook once through so the water is absorbed.

Divide between plates and sprinkle generously with grated parmesan.

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