This recipe is based off of one of my favorite pastas that I cooked in my Italian cooking class this summer. It is absurdly easy and simple and just wonderful. I used fresh pasta in this particular preparation, but you can use dry and it will be just fine.
Basically, this is just mushrooms sautéed in butter with herbs and tossed with pasta. What’s not to like about that? One of the most surprising things that I learned in my classes, was the art of simplicity. I expected to go to Italy and learn all the wonders and secrets about a perfect red sauce. I thought it would be complicated. I thought it would be surrounded in mystery. But 90% of the red sauces we made in cooking school consisted of canned plum tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. The secret to great Italian cooking is to use as few ingredients as you can get away with and to let each one shine.
This recipe is about mushrooms. They are simply prepared and served tossed with noodles in a light butter sauce. And it is magical. Especially now that the weather is changing, it just feels like the kind of thing you should eat a big bowl of curled up on your couch in your slippers. But at the same time, despite its simplicity, it makes a fabulous centerpiece for a dinner with friends. It is casual, not fussy, and delicious, while still looking really elegant.
MMMMmmm… buttery noodles….
Isn’t the shot below fun? My photographer friend said she didn’t know why this one turned out like this. Maybe a burst of steam from when I lifted up the pasta with the tongs, or maybe some magical play of light at that moment. It makes it look like some magical, mystery pasta.
You can use any kind of mushrooms you want in this. Example, for this photo shoot/eating session, I used white button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, and baby bellas. The great thing about a simple preparation like this, is you can use inexpensive mushrooms, but still get great flavor. I love the variety you can get with mushroom flavors. The more expensive ones have a richer, woodier flavor, but mushrooms like white buttons just work as a sponge for whatever great flavors you throw at them. Mix it up! If you want to be fancy, throw in some porcinis or something more exotic. Whatever you use, it will be delicious.
Like mixing up the mushrooms, you can mix everything about this recipe. Use it as a base to explore. If you have more mushrooms on hand, use them! If you just want a few and mostly want a bunch of buttery noodles, that’s cool too!
But I will say, I highly recommend a nice shaving of fresh parmesan on top. But hey, that’s just me.
Simple Mushroom Fettuccine
- About 2.5 cups of sliced mushrooms, or about 3 8 oz packages of various mushrooms, sliced
- 2 TB thyme
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 stick of butter
- 1/2 cup white wine
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3/4 pound pasta
In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, mushrooms, and red pepper flakes. Sauté until the butter is all absorbed. Add the white wine. Let cook until mushrooms have released and reabsorbed their liquid. Add additional butter to melt.
Cook the pasta to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining. Mix the pasta with the buttery mushroom mixture, adding pasta water as needed to make a nice saucy texture. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve and eat!
Photographs by Jessica Yager.