I knew there would be fun surprises in the boxes that we’ve had in storage during our 18 month sojourn in New England. I anticipated taking my time opening them and rediscovering lost treasures. But it hasn’t worked that way, the drive to unpack and get settled is too strong. I could never be one of those people that lives with the boxes in the corner for months on end. As I was madly unpacking and stashing files in a cupboard, my old recipe file flopped open and I was thrilled to find this recipe right at the front; it was clipped from an old issue of Country Living, and was the inspiration for a family favorite.
Another surprise was the new mushroom stand at yesterday’s farmer’s market. When I saw the gorgeously arranged baskets of assorted wild mushrooms I knew immediately what I would make.
This is a wonderfully woodsy, full flavored pasta. It’s as if you could have foraged the whole thing from the forest floor. You can use whatever mushrooms you like, but if you can’t find exotic or wild mushrooms, mix in a few reconstituted dried mushrooms for extra flavor.
You should have at least 4 cups of sliced mushrooms when you’re done. Since mine were from the farmer’s market and kind of ‘earthy’, I gave them a quick rinse. The latest thinking on cleaning mushrooms has been evolving and many chefs have now debunked the old myth that mushrooms get soggy when exposed to water. If you give them a quick rinse just before using they’ll be fine.
Be sure to roast the hazelnuts until they are really toasty and brown. The flavor is so much more intense. I roasted mine for 20 minutes and they could have used another 5.
Nutty Gruyere cheese and fresh green watercress really make this pasta special.
Fettuccine with Wild Mushrooms and Hazelnuts
12 oz fettuccine
4 Tbsp butter
1 sweet onion, halved and sliced
at least 4 cups sliced mixed wild or exotic mushrooms
salt to taste
1/2 cup dry sherry, Marsala, or dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth (optional)
fresh cracked pepper
several sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed
1 bunch watercress, chopped
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
- Clean the mushrooms and slice them. Set aside.
- Cook the fettuccine until just al dente.
- Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet and saute the onion until translucent.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan, salt them, and saute until they cook down and soften a bit. This will only take a few minutes, don’t cook them into oblivion. Season with fresh cracked pepper and thyme.
- Add the sherry and chicken broth, if using, and let the liquid reduce for a minute or two on a medium high heat. Add the last tablespoon of butter to the sauce, check the seasonings, and keep warm.
- Drain the pasta and toss with the watercress and cheese.
- Add to the skillet and toss well, heating everything through.
- Scatter the hazelnuts liberally over the pasta.
Notes: Roast the whole hazelnuts on a dry baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, giving the pan a shake every five minutes. The chicken stock is optional, it will give you more of a sauce if used.