Apparently I’m no mushroom farmer.
Mushrooms Canada was one of the sponsors of the Food Bloggers of Canada conference that I attended in April, and they provided each participant with an oyster mushroom growing kit. I’d like to explore using mushrooms more in my cooking, so I was excited to get growing.
And, really, how hard could it be? All I had to do was follow the instructions on the side of the box: soak the package for 12 hours, then mist it twice a day and watch mushrooms magically sprout and grow to maturity. And that’s exactly what happened: on day five we began to see signs of habitation in Mushroomville, and by day nine I had a nice crop of plump looking ‘shrooms. A couple more days, I figured, and I’d be harvesting and cooking.
And then, on day 10, my mushrooms started to shrivel up. By day 11 I knew it wasn’t meant to be. We’d had a spell of very warm weather here, and I had the box on a sunny window sill. I should have realized that direct sun, heat and mushrooms don’t mix. I was disappointed but undeterred; each kit comes with two sets of mushrooms, so now I’ll start growing the other side. Cross your fingers for me!
But in the meantime, I’d been anticipating a good meal featuring mushrooms and didn’t see any reason to wait longer. I went to the market, bought some very nice creminis and in no time at all whipped up a quick and easy pasta con olio e funghi di cremini. I hope that’s Italian for “pasta with olive oil and cremini mushrooms.” However you say it, I have to tell you, it tasted delicious. Perfect al dente fettuccine with a simple yet nuanced sauce of olive oil, meaty mushrooms complemented by the earthiness of fresh thyme, set off by aromatics and the bright zing of fresh lemon juice.
There definitely will be more mushrooms on my table in the future. If I’m able to get into my mushroom farming groove they may be oyster mushrooms that I’ve grown myself, but otherwise I’ll happily buy them at the market.
DISCLAIMER: Mushrooms Canada provided the oyster mushroom growing kits to all participants at the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference in April 2013. There was no obligation to write about our experience growing them, but by choosing to do so I am eligible for a $50 gift card, to be awarded through a random draw. UPDATE: On June 6, Mushrooms Canada notified me that I was chosen as the winner of the gift card in their random draw. It seems that pasta with mushrooms brings good luck!
Fettuccine With Olive Oil and Mushrooms
This recipe is a bit of a spin on the traditional pasta aglio e olio, adding sliced mushrooms and complementary seasonings. I enjoyed it without cheese, but I don’t think you could go wrong with a grating of fresh Parmesan to finish. Serves one.
- enough fettuccine or other dried pasta for one serving
- salted water
- 2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small shallot, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 large clove garlic, thickly sliced
- a good handful of cremini mushrooms, sliced (1-1/2 cups sliced)
- leaves from several sprigs of thyme, chopped
- a spritz of fresh lemon juice
- freshly ground pepper to taste
Bring a pot of water to the boil (enough to give the pasta lots of room to cook), add about a tablespoon of salt and add the dried pasta. Cook until just barely al dente (he pasta will cook further when you add it to the sauce). If the pasta is done before the sauce is ready to receive it, drain and reserve a half cup of the cooking water.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat and add the shallot and garlic, stirring occasionally. After a few minutes, once they start to soften, add the sliced mushrooms, chopped thyme and freshly ground pepper to taste. Sauté, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are starting to brown but are still juicy. If you judge it necessary, add up to one tablespoon more olive oil, a little at a time during this process. Turn the heat to low.
Once the mushrooms are cooked through, spritz on a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and add add the pasta. If you time it right, you can transfer it directly from its pot and it will carry with it enough liquid to the skillet to loosen the sauce. If the pasta finished ahead of time and has been drained, add a couple of tablespoons or so of cooking liquid until the sauce is the right consistency (i.e., just enough to get all the pasta coated without it pooling in the bottom of the pan). Toss the pasta to incorporate the sauce throughout, then taste and adjust seasoning if required.
Transfer to a plate and garnish with a couple of sprigs of thyme.
I enjoyed this with a glass of crisp white wine, in front of the TV (it’s not all linen tablecloths and candles around here).