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Spaghetti with Fall Mushroom Ragu

Today is the first real autumn feeling day that we have had this year -- cold and damp and gray -- but deadheading the lavender and cutting back the ivy were on my list of chores so out into the garden I went.

It has been so wet this year that saucer-sized mushrooms have suddenly popped up here and there on the lawn, which reminded me of my years living in France. We used to go forest mushroom picking in the Fall and then lug our basket of treasures to the pharmacy where, not just at our local store but across France, a free mushroom identifying service is offered during the season so as to avoid people poisoning themselves. My husband and I always did alright, but did on occasion watch the pharmacist recoil from a trug with a couple of mushrooms in hand: "Ah non, Madame, NON!"

Post gardening and post musings, I was cold, damp and hungry, ready to throw rocks at the very noisy crows who supervised my chores, and -- luckily for me -- just happened to have a punnet of assorted mushrooms in the fridge, which I turned into a lovely ragu for lunch. I debated eating the mushrooms on toast, but pasta won the day.

Rest assured, the saucer-sized mushrooms which I was not able to identify on my Seek app are still in the garden.

1 cup assorted mushrooms, chopped

1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed

1/2 shallot, finely chopped

1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

1/2 tsp thyme leaves, chopped

2 tsps flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped

2 tsps unsalted butter

1 Tbsps dry white wine

2 Tbsps heavy cream

1 Tbsp + 2 tsps grated Parmesan

1 portion spaghetti (I leave the choice of actual size to your appetite)

Salt and white pepper to taste

Heat a pot of salted water on the stovetop. As soon as it comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta. Cook for one minute less than indicated for al dente on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, make your ragu.

Add the butter and garlic to a large skillet and heat over medium-low until the butter has melted.

Toss in the shallots, the rosemary and the thyme and cook until the shallots are starting to soften, thirty seconds or so.

Add the mushrooms and stir to combine with the herb butter. Add the white wine and lower the heat to low.

Cook, stirring from time to time, until the mushrooms have rendered all of their juices and reabsorbed them along with most of the pan juices -- you want slightly damp mushrooms, not mushrooms swimming in a butter sauce or a completely dry pan.

Add the cream, a tablespoon of the grated Parmesan and a tablespoon of the water from the cooking pasta. Stir to combine until the Parmesan has melted. Remove from the heat until the pasta has finished cooking. Remove the garlic to avoid any nasty surprises later.

Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the mushrooms. Put the pan back over the heat on medium and toss the pasta to combine with the ragu so that each strand of spaghetti has a thin sheen of the cream sauce.

Add to a pasta bowl and top with the chopped parsley and the remaining grated Parmesan.


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