Life’s been frenzied lately: A trip to San Francisco for the food world’s annual IACP conference, with an afternoon detour to LA to conduct an interview. A dizzying number of work deadlines shoehorned in. And before that, Harry’s eleven-day-long spring break. (Counting the days? Who, me?)
With all that whoop-de-do, there hasn’t been much opportunity to cook. But this weekend spring grabbed a tiny toehold at my farmers’ market, and I picked up some new goodies to try—we’re encouraging bribing Harry to expand his culinary horizons with another chart, two years after the fleeting success of my first one. And last night, we had a wild mushroom party.
I’d picked up crimini and shiitake for something familiar, plus pom poms, yellow oyster, and enoki, none of which I’d used before. Before prepping them for cooking, I brought the latter three into the living room to show Harry.
“Kiddo, what do you think these are?”
“Eggplant!” (I’m so embarrassed.)
“No, try again.”
At first I thought he was nuts, but then I realized the enoki kinda do resemble spears of asparagus, and the pom poms were cauliflower-ish.
I didn’t ask him to try any. I just held them out for him to examine. And miracle of miracles, Harry slipped the smallest possible enoki into his mouth. Then gave a thumbs-up! He only ate the one, but that’s more mushroom than he’s eaten in, oh, six years.
Once the demo was completed, I put on a pot of water for pasta and got cooking. Thirty minutes later Stephen walked in the door and dinner was served: A quick sauté of mixed mushrooms, tossed with garlic, lemon juice, and thyme, and thickened with Parmesan and pasta water.
Harry actually tried a piece of fettuccine. He didn’t like it, of course.
We grownups, on the other hand, enjoyed the crap out of it.
Lemony Wild Mushroom Pasta
8 ounces fettuccine
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces mixed wild mushrooms, sliced, torn, or chopped (I used crimini, shiitake, pom pom, yellow oyster, and enoki)
salt & pepper to taste
2 small cloves garlic, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add the fettuccine.
- While it cooks, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When it shimmers add the heartier mushrooms (in my case, the crimini and shiitake) and salt & pepper. Let them cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, then stir once and leave them for another 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about a minute, then add the remaining mushrooms and cook another 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice and thyme and reduce the heat to very low—you don’t want those delicate mushrooms to overcook.
- Your pasta should be just about ready. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of the starchy cooking water. Once drained, add the pasta to the skillet and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Stir and add enough reserved cooking water to fully moisten the pan. Bring the heat back up to medium and cook for another minute or two, until the dish takes on a saucy consistency. Serve topped with more cheese.
MAKE BABY FOOD: If you’re on purees, this should whir up just fine. For finger food, chop everything into smaller pieces.