My Wild Mushroom Pasta with Hazelnuts is a creamy skillet pasta packed with wild mushrooms, toasted hazelnuts, Gruyere cheese, and lots of fresh thyme and sage. It’s a feast for the senses whether you’ve been foraging in the forest or just hunting and gathering at your local supermarket, it’s all good!
This woodsy combination of earthy mushrooms, sage, Gruyere cheese, and roasted hazelnuts never fails us, we’ve been enjoying it for years, always with pasta. I think I tore the recipe from a magazine a gazillion years ago ~ and it was one of the first things my husband and I cooked together. We made it so often we memorized it, altered it a bit here and there, and eventually claimed it as our own. It’s one of our signature family meals.
I bagged my wild mushrooms at the farmers market, they’re straight from the forests of Northern California. I must say they weren’t cheap, so I augmented with some store bought creminis. Most big supermarkets stock ‘wild’ mushroom varieties right next to the cultivated. Feel free to mix and match with whatever you can find. I augment the fresh mushrooms with a packet of dried. I do this a lot when I cook with mushrooms because the dried are like little flavor bombs that add an earthy oomph to the sauce. In this case I re-hydrate them right in the heated cream which then becomes the base for the sauce.
The sauce comes together while your pasta is cooking, making this a very doable 30 minute meal. Slice the mushrooms, toast the nuts, and grate the cheese ahead of time and you’re golden.
Marsala wine, a fortified wine, makes all the difference in the sauce. I always keep a bottle in the cupboard above my stove and reach for it often. It stars in my CHICKEN THIGHS MARSALA, but I add to to all sorts of dishes when I want a flavor boost. You can substitute a dry white wine, but the Marsala has much more flavor.
Your kitchen will come alive with the combined aromas of the Marsala, the mushrooms, and the toasting hazelnuts!
TIPS for the perfect Wild Mushroom Pasta with Hazelnuts ~
- Unless your mushrooms are very dirty, just dust off or wipe them, don’t wash them. They absorb the water which can make them soggy.
- Slice your mushrooms fairly thickly because they SHRINK when they cook.
- Preheat a dry skillet and saute your mushrooms without any oil or butter, stirring almost constantly. This allows the mushrooms to release their moisture and get nice and toasty browned, not soggy. You want to intensify their flavor, not dilute it. Don’t worry, there will be butter, it’ll be used to cook the shallots and garlic after the mushrooms are out of the pan.
- Saute in batches so the pan doesn’t cool down and there isn’t, again, too much moisture.
- Marsala wine. Just get some. And use it.
- Don’t skip or skimp on the fresh herbs, they make a huge difference in this dish.
- .5 ounce package (that's half an ounce) dried wild mushrooms, any variety, I used Chanterelles
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 lb pasta, any shape
- 4-5 cups fresh wild mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- fresh thyme leaves stripped from the stems, about 2 teaspoons or more to taste
- fresh sage, chopped or thinly sliced, about 2 teaspoons or more to taste
- 1/3 cup Marsala wine (or other fortified or dry white wine)
- 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese (plus more for optional garnish)
- 1/3 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- Heat the cream to a simmer on the stove or in the microwave, then add the dried mushrooms. Make sure the mushrooms are submerged in the hot cream, cover, and set aside for 20 minutes while you continue cooking.
- Cook the pasta until just al dente in plenty of well salted water. Drain and keep warm.
- While the pasta is cooking, saute your mushrooms, in batches, in a large skillet. You can saute them in butter or olive oil, or do it in a dry pan, which is my preference. Saute until they have begun to lose their moisture and are turning golden. Remove to a plate.
- Add the butter to the same pan and saute the shallots. garlic, thyme and sage over medium low heat for several minutes until softened but not browned.
- Add the Marsala to the pan and let it bubble down, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the pan.
- Strain the mushrooms from the cream and add the cream to the pan and swirl everything together. Bring up to a simmer and season with salt and pepper. Turn down the heat and stir in the cheese, just until it starts to melt.
- Chop the hydrated mushrooms and add them to the pan along with the other mushrooms.
- Add the pasta to the pan and give everything a good mix. If the pasta has cooled, bring it up to temperature.
- Serve right away, garnished with the nuts, extra cheese if you like, and more fresh herbs.
Make it your own ~
- You might finish the sauce with a little good quality truffle oil.
- We sometimes use fettuccine in place of the cut pasta.
- Gruyere is expensive, so substitute with a sharp aged cheddar if you like.
- Add sausage if you like, remove it from the casing and brown it in the skillet first, then set aside while you make the sauce. Add it back in when you add the mushrooms.
- Wild mushrooms are fascinating, but be sure you’ve done your homework if you want to try foraging for yourself, there are lots of edible wild mushrooms all over the country, but some are notoriously dangerous, and you need to know the difference.
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