Creamy Mushroom and Truffle Pasta
In the few occasions each year I find myself far from my husband, I take full advantage.
Meaning? I watch 60 Minutes and Dateline (contrary to popular belief, Francesco’s kind of television is bad television: America’s Tackiest Weddings is one memorable favorite), drink the occasional Nescafe (which would trigger his gag reflex) and, finally, I make all sorts of unorthodox pasta.
If you’ve been following me for more than a little while, or if you’re lucky enough to know him in real life, you know that Francesco’s pasta standards are high. Almost untenable. He likes simple. He likes classic. He likes spaghetti al pomodoro and tagliatelle al ragù. And though I respect his focus on tradition in the kitchen, sometimes I want a big, messy, creamy, cheesy bowl of pasta. And I’m sure you do, too.
Good thing my dad is the King of the Cream Sauce. In fact, at Thanksgiving (which was our first at home) the gravy was all white wine and shallot and not…gravy.
As I was walking around our local grocery store, a sleeping almost-toddler in my arms, I found a little jar of truffle slices preserved in oil. Yes, please. We picked up a bag of oyster mushrooms for bulk and flavor, and, obviously, some heavy cream. The store was all out of fresh pappardelle so we got lasagna sheets instead, and sliced them into long strands.
The smell of truffles filled the kitchen as the pasta spent a few minutes underwater…and then….heaven.
The pasta with its 5 ingredients takes almost no time to make and less time to eat. It’s heavy and rich – a little goes a long way – and it might make an Italian laugh out loud, but it makes me hungry just thinking about it.
And who knows, maybe I can convince the purist to try a little. If not, that’s OK, too. I’m sure someone will be able to finish it.
CREAMY MUSHROOM AND TRUFFLE PASTA
1 1/2 lbs fresh pasta (pappardelle, tagliatelle or lasagna sliced)
olive oil and a few tablespoons of butter
2 cups oyster mushrooms (approx)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 jar truffle salsa (optional)
Put water on to boil for the pasta.
Put the cream and the crushed garlic cloves in a small pot and set to simmer as you prepare the mushrooms. Be careful, as cream is wont to boil over if you don’t watch it. You want the cream to reduce by at least half.
Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and add the stalks to the cream.
In a large pot, heat a little olive oil and a few tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the oyster mushrooms (sans stalks) and stir to coat. Allow to cook until wilted completely – it should take about 10 minutes. Add a few gratings of fresh pepper if you want.
When the water is boiling and the cream has reduced enough, add some salt and throw in the fresh pasta for 2 minutes. Strain the cream and discard the garlic and mushroom stalks. Add the strained cream to the sauteed mushrooms and, if using, add in the truffle salsa and turn off the heat.
Add the cooked pasta directly into the sauce using tongs. Toss with grated Parmesan cheese if desired. Serve immediately.