Some of the best pastas I've had have been the simplest ones. In Florence, I had a memorable linguini with squid and sage in an olive oil base. Otto's at Woolloomooloo used to do an amazing pasta just with sautéed asparagus and fresh egg yolk. Even closer to home was my oldest brother's spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, chilli and spicy Polish sausage. All these dishes take no time to prepare but are hugely satisfying.
I love mushrooms but I find your typical button or Swiss mushrooms are just not robust enough in flavour to be the main star of a simple pasta dish. That's why I decided to use shiitake and enoki mushrooms for this recipe. Both are packed with flavour and don't shrink a lot when cooked. I know this recipe calls for a lot of mushrooms but here's a tip: you can get shiitake mushrooms from Asian supermarkets for 1/3 of their price at Woolworth's and Coles.
My nephew Jacob loves this dish so I always think of him when I make this recipe. Wish I can send you some, Jacob!
300 g shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thinly
300 g enoki mushrooms, bottom stems trimmed (about 2 cm), separated into thin bundles
2 t finely chopped garlic
½ c roughly chopped flat parsley
4 small dried red chillies, chopped (optional)
500 g pasta (linguini, pappardelle or spaghetti)
5-6 T olive oil
30 g unsalted butter
Heat half of the olive oil in a hot frying pan. Add half the mushrooms, cook for 1 minute then add 1 t garlic, half the chillies and a pinch of salt. Toss mushrooms regularly and cook for 3 minutes or until the mushrooms are a nice golden brown. Add half of butter until most of it has melted. Remove from heat and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season to taste. Transfer into a large bowl that would be big enough for the mushrooms and pasta to be tossed in. Repeat process for remainder of mushrooms.
Cook pasta in salted boiling water. Drain then add to mushroom mixture and toss until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Add flat parsley and mix well. Serve with parmesan cheese if desired.
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