We normally associate October with pumpkins, Halloween, and all things fall, but did you know we have dedicated the whole month of October to pasta? It’s not surprising since pasta is one of America’s favorite foods. So in honor of National Pasta Month, I am sharing an easy pasta recipe with some delicious fall mushrooms. If you love mushrooms, you will enjoy this pasta recipe. Unlike most of my previous pasta dishes, this recipe is made with store-bought pasta and easy to prepare on a weeknight. This pasta dish has layers of umami flavor, from the porcini water to the truffle salt. Also, the mushrooms aren’t masked in a thick creamy sauce; instead they are sautéed, so you can taste each type of mushroom in the dish. Gemelli or penne works well with a sauceless recipe. There is a method to the madness of the 60+ types of traditional pasta shapes in Italy. The type of sauce and ingredients will dictate the appropriate pasta to use.
In this recipe I have a couple of optional ingredients. I like adding chopped toasted walnuts to provide a contrast in texture, but I made it optional since my son and husband prefer the pasta without nuts. Also, the truffle salt adds a wonderful fragrance to the dish, but it is expensive and not essential. If you happen to have some truffle salt in your pantry, definitely sprinkle some on the pasta, but don’t go out of your way to buy some. Either way, the pasta will be tasty. Enjoy!
Gemelli Pasta with Assorted Mushrooms
Serving Size: 4-6
1 ounce of dried porcini mushrooms*
1/2 cup of hot water
Extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves (chopped)
12 ounces of dried gemelli or penne pasta
12 ounces of assorted mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, chanterelles, oysters, maitake, etc.)
1 1/2 teaspoons of chopped thyme leaves
Freshly grated black pepper
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of heavy cream (optional)
1/4 cup of chopped Italian parsley, plus extra for serving
1/3 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra shavings for serving
1/2 cup of toasted walnuts, chopped (optional)
Black truffle salt (optional)
1. Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl. Pour in 1/2 cup of hot water. Set aside.
2. Prep the fresh mushrooms by cleaning with damp cloth to remove any dirt. Slice and/or quarter the mushrooms. Set aside.
3. Heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for 15 seconds.
4. Add the all mushrooms, chopped thyme, a pinch of sea salt, and a few turns of the pepper mill.
5. Meanwhile, add 3 quarts of water and a handful of Kosher salt in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil.
6. Sauté the mushrooms for about 8 minutes until the mushrooms are full cooked. Transfer to a plate. Set aside.
7. In the same large sauté pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Then add the sliced red onions and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat.
8. Add the pasta to the boiling water. Cook until al dente (See instructions on package).
9. Drain the porcini mushrooms and reserve the liquid. Finely chop the porcini mushrooms. Add the chopped porcini, the reserved liquid, and a pinch of sea salt to the pan with the red onions. Turn the heat up to high. Cook for 2 minutes.
10. Whisk in the the butter and cook for 1 minute.
11. Add the cream and cook for 1 more minute, stirring constantly.
12. Drain the pasta and reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Add the cooked pasta, the reserved sautéed mushrooms, the chopped parsley, and the grated Parmigiano-reggiano. Stir to combine and cook for 1 more minute. Add the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen pasta.Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle extra olive oil.
13. Spoon some pasta in a serving bowl. Sprinkle truffle salt, chopped walnuts, chopped parsley, and a few shavings of Parmigiano-reggiano.
*I buy my dried porcini mushrooms from a mushroom vendor at my local farmers market. Dried porcini mushroom can also be found online or at a specialty gourmet market.