A few weeks ago on a quiet Sunday morning, I went on a walk in the damp Pennsylvania woods with wild foragers, Cavan and Tom Patterson. We scanned the ground for the beautiful melon-colored folds of chanterelle mushrooms, a common but incredibly delicious mushroom that grows in this area. (Hear more about chanterelles from the Pattersons on this week’s edition of CP’s food podcast, Sound Bite.)
There is something awe-inspiring about mushrooms. Maybe it’s their association with fairy tales, or that one sort-of mushroom — the honey fungus — makes up the largest organism on earth. Or perhaps it’s that they taste like earth and sun. Regardless, the fact that something so tasty is just growing wild in the woods somewhere is enough. At home with my boots off, I wanted to prepare them as simply as possible to appreciate their delicate flavor.
- 16 oz. pasta (Any shape of pasta that holds sauce well will do. I prefer varieties like cavatelli, casarecce or campanelle.)
- 2 shallots, finely sliced
- 1 head of garlic, minced
- 1 pint chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 1-2 large Cherokee Purple (or other) tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp. (i.e. a quick pour) dry white white
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
- 3 tbsp. butter, salted or unsalted (plus any more as needed)
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until just al dente. Drain, saving a cup of pasta water for possible addition to sauce. Set aside. Melt butter in a large sauce pan. Add shallots and garlic. Sauté over high heat for two minutes, until fragrant. Add chanterelles and cook for two minutes. Deglaze pan with a quick pour of white wine. Reduce heat to medium and add tomatoes. The mixture will have a lot of moisture: Reduce until it thickens. Add pasta and stir until incorporated, another one to two minutes. For extra flavor, add grated parmesan or chopped parsley before serving. Or just enjoy it simply, as is. Serves four to five.