There was a packet of mushrooms in the fridge which were starting to look as if their best days were over. So it was an opportunity to try this Nigella Lawson recipe which I have wanted to try ever since we got her Italian-influenced book Nigellissima. It is a luxurious creamy pasta which makes you feel naughty eating it! Nigella’s recipe uses only dried porcini, so I just used a mixture of dried plus the fresh meaty portobello mushrooms languishing in our fridge. Serves 2 15g dried porcini
fresh mushrooms [whatever you have to hand, optional]
60ml marsala 60ml water
125g mascarpone Freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
Large handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Your pasta of choice 15g unsalted butter
1 small clove of garlic, peeled and minced
Two good handfuls of freshly grated parmesan Measure the porcini into a small pan, cover with the marsala and water, and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and allow it to stand for at least 10 minutes, I actually made it hours in advance which worked too [below]. Measure the mascarpone into a bowl, adding a good grating of fresh nutmeg and ground black pepper. When the porcini have finished soaking, strain the mushroom liquid into the mascarpone bowl then whisk it together lightly to combine. Squeeze the porcini out over the bowl to catch all the drips of mushroom liquid. Mix the squeezed porcini with the parsley and chop both together on a board. Wipe the fresh mushrooms clean [if using] with a piece of kitchen towel, then slice or chop according to how you like them. I left ours in large slices to contrast nicely with the tiny pieces of porcini.
You can prepare to this stage in advance. When you are ready to eat, put the pasta water onto boil adding a pinch of salt and a dash of oil to the water.
Cook your chosen pasta as usual, meanwhile prepare the sauce.
In a large frying pan or wok, warm the butter and add the garlic, stirring it for 3 seconds. Add the fresh mushrooms and stir until softened [mushrooms notoriously soak up butter, so feel free to add a glug of oil too]. Next add the chopped porcini and parsley and cook for a couple of minutes. Whisk in the contents of the mascarpone bowl and stir until it starts to bubble. Turn the heat off.
Reserve a small cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and tip into the sauce. Toss to coat, adding a little pasta water to loosen the sauce. Now add the parmesan and toss again. Check the seasoning.
Serve in two warmed bowls, with extra parsley scattered over the top. 5 to remember
una seta – a mushroom
por adelantado – in advance
la fase – the stage [of development/activity]
exprimir – to squeeze/extract
calentado/a – warmed
‘Nigellissima’ by Nigella Lawson