Creamy Bucatini with Mushrooms
Not sure why, but I have been craving mushrooms lately. Maybe it’s a vitamin deficiency, maybe it’s hormones, maybe it’s the time of year- I have no clue but I have been cooking a lot of fungi of late and I’m feeling fine about it. This Creamy Bucatini with Mushrooms wins the award for best ’shroom recipe to come out of my kitchen- it’s a deceptively simple yet deliciously indulgent dish that I hope you will try soon! Think of it as sort of a lighter and brighter Fettucini Alfredo loaded with woody, umami packed double mushroom action. YUM.
It all starts with a whole lotta fresh mushrooms, 1 lb worth (or 2 packages) to be precise. I use cremini (aka baby bella) mushrooms, but if you want to be *extra* you can use a combo of fancy mushrooms in the same amounts. I brown the mushrooms first in batches to get them nice and golden- if you do them all at once, they will steam instead of brown. Another trick I’ve learned about mushrooms is to season them at the end of cooking, since adding salt right at the beginning will draw out extra moisture and also deter browning. Once the batches are done, season them with a pinch of salt and transfer to a plate while you proceed with the recipe.
Bucatini, a hollow spaghetti type pasta, is one of my favorite shapes and the perfect choice for this recipe. If you can’t find it, spaghetti, fettuccine or linguini would make excellent substitutes. This is an elegant dish, so I like a longer shape that can luxuriously be twirled around your fork as you indulge (just avoid angel hair, it’s too delicate and will overcook the sauce). Also, remember that the pasta will continue to cook for a few minutes in the sauce, so strain it right before it reaches al dente (a little chewier than usual) for the best final texture.
If you want to take the elegance factor to the next level, and by all means you should, try adding a little white truffle oil! By a little, I mean a LITTLE- too much of this potent ingredient will overwhelm the dish, but just a splash adds so much wonderful depth of flavor. Plus, the addition of truffle oil takes this recipe from weeknight to date night, so if you’re looking for an easy Valentine’s meal, you have found it! If you’re not a truffle fan or you’re just not in the mood for that level of romance, no worries- the pasta will still be tasty without the truffle oil.
This pasta gets its lightly creamy consistency from creme fraiche, which is thicker, richer and less tangy than traditional sour cream. A small amount adds the perfect amount of silkiness to the dish. The creme fraiche in combo with with reserved pasta water (don’t dump it!), grated parm and a smidge of butter make for an ultra luxurious sauce that is not overloaded with cream like the Alfredo style dishes you might be used to- this is much lighter, but no less hearty! If you cannot find creme fraiche, sour cream will be fine as a sub, although a little more acidic. Mascarpone cheese would also be delicious. If you’re a mushroom lover like me, you can’t go wrong with this simple and delicious recipe. Happy cooking!
extra virgin olive oil
1 lb cremini (aka baby bella) mushrooms, stems discarded and thinly sliced
1 large shallot, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
8 oz bucatini pasta, or another long shape
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tsp lemon zest, from 1 lemon
1 tbsp white truffle oil, plus extra for finishing (optional)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
prep time: ~15 min. cook time: ~25 min. serves: 2-3
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season liberally with kosher salt. Heat 1 tbsp evoo over medium in the bottom of another large, deep skillet. Add half of the mushrooms to brown, sautéing about 5 min until golden. Season them with a pinch of salt once cooked, transfer to a plate, add a splash more oil to the skillet and repeat with the second batch. Remove the second batch of mushrooms to the same plate and wipe out the skillet.
Add your pasta to the boiling water at this point to cook until just shy of al dente according to package instructions, about 9 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water before the pasta has finished cooking.
While pasta cooks, drizzle 1 more tbsp of oil into the wiped out skillet and then add the shallot- sauté 3 minutes to soften. Add the garlic, thyme and chili flake and sauté 1 min more. Add the cooked mushrooms back to the skillet and deglaze with the white wine- let it reduce almost completely and season with 1/2 tsp kosher salt.
When the pasta is ready, use tongs to add it to the skillet with the mushrooms. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the creme fraiche and 1/2 cup parmigiano cheese. Add the pasta water little by little and toss, cooking over low heat 2-3 minutes and tossing constantly, until the sauce is glossy, thick and creamy.
Off the heat, stir in the parsley, butter, truffle oil and lemon zest. Toss to mix and melt the butter. Check for seasoning. Serve the pasta hot in shallow bowls with more Parmesan and a teensy drizzle of truffle oil on top if you desire.