Tagliatelle with girolles (or any mushrooms)

It’s raining it’s pouring…
Usually Lexie adores the rain as she has a thing for umbrellas and wellies.

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But even she has had enough of having to endure her pushchair rain cover every day since forever #toddlerproblems

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I don’t entirely mind the rain. The slight OCD that emerged in me when Lexie was born is grateful the streets are getting washed properly. I’m also glad that damp = good skin according to my mum. I quite like London in the rain, it feels right (as opposed to London in a heatwave which is hellish). I would however far prefer to be mushroom foraging in a dark, magical Basque forest than fighting with my umbrella on the pavement. I remember being a little girl on treasured mushroom hunts in the forests of Guipuzkoa. I was the assistant to my adored cousin Inigo, a landscape gardener and terrific chef, who would create the most fantastic dishes with our finds (some of his recipes to follow!). The pic below is us together in one of his favourite forests near Anoeta where he lives.

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The damp has been playing on my mind and all I can think about are mushrooms and how to eat them. A morning visit to my mother-in-laws gave me the chance to peruse her River Cafe cookbooks and stock up on herbs from her wonderful garden. I returned home laden with bundles of thyme, rosemary, sage and recipes for veal escalopes, baked porcini and girolle tagliatelle. I realise writing this I’ve also been heavily influenced by a post I read recently on the glorious Manger website.

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I needed a quick lunch and figured veal might be more fun for dinner with Lewis than with a tired toddler so pasta it was. I’ve got a standard mushroom tagliatelle I do with cream, bacon, onion and parsley (see recipe for this variation at bottom of the recipe). I far prefer this version. It’s much cleaner and allows the mushrooms to really take the stage rather than masking them with a rich creamy sauce. Lexie had my leftovers for dinner as a side with a ‘maybe tiny little’ (her words she says doing little lobster claw fingers in front of her eyes) slice of veal saltimbocca and some buttered spinach. She wolfed the pasta – by far her favourite bit of the meal!

EDIT: I now make this pasta recipe about once a week using the bog standard mushrooms and spaghetti from the supermarket because it takes exactly 10 mins, it’s really tasty and cheap. It’s basically one step up from pasta, butter and cheese which we also love to eat when in a hurry. I never use girolles because they are so pricy and also such a faff to clean. So if you want a cheap staple try this with button mushrooms and spaghetti. If you love that and want to push the boat out buy posh girolles and good tagliatelle. 

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Tagliatelle with girolles (or any mushrooms) 

Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Serves: 2
Ease: Very easy
Budget: £5-10 depending on mushrooms (tagliatelle £2.50, mushrooms £3, parsley £1.50, lemon 30p)

  • 1/2 pack Tagliatelle or spaghetti
  • Girolle mushrooms (or any mushrooms – this is lovely with button, chestnut and portobello mushrooms = aka the ones that are cheap at the supermarket) – as many as you fancy
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • Handful of parsley – chopped
  • 1 clove of sliced garlic
  • Parmesan

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If using normal mushrooms cut the ends of the stalks off then slice. Don’t wash them as mushrooms absorb water. If using girolles, clean them before slicing, so cut the ends of the stalks off then wipe with a damp cloth or brush with a toothbrush. This is really fiddly and don’t attempt this with a toddler under your feet, rather with a glass of wine listening to the radio watching the rain tinkle on the window!

Cook the tagliatelle as per the instructions and when done – usually 5-10 mins – drain, return to the pan with a big knob of butter and some salt. The mushrooms take about 3-5 mins to fry so its good to do have everything ready then start frying them once the pasta starts cooking. So heat olive oil in a separate frying pan to a high temperature but not smoking – I use about 3 tbsp. Add the mushrooms, season immediately and fry for a minute, then add the sliced garlic and fry for another minute on this high heat. Squeeze lemon juice on the mushrooms and reduce the heat adding the chopped parsley. Turn the heat off and as soon as the pasta is done add the mushrooms and mix. Serve with plenty of parmesan and lemon wedges.

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Here are some really good tips on how to clean and cook mushrooms – I knew about not washing them but I didn’t know how important it is to cook mushrooms on a high heat (it’s very important!!).

  • Variation: For those who like creamy pasta sauces try this: fry bacon then add chopped onion. Cook for a bit then add sliced mushrooms, some crushed garlic and maybe a splash of white wine. Sizzle and fry until you like the look of the mushrooms then season with salt, pepper and parsley. Add a swirl of double cream and turn the heat off. Mix in the cooked tagliatelle, season and serve with parmesan.
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