I’ve seen this truck full of gorgeous mushrooms on successive mornings for the past week. I hadn’t stopped to buy any though, because we’ve had so many dinners there and everywhere, but not here, in our own dining room. Yesterday, though, after bringing Jack to school, I walked back by a route that would take me past the fungi guy.
I asked for “some of those”—in Italian—and pointed. That was enough. He started loading up a small bag, and when I said, “basta, grazie,” he put it on the scale and mumbled something about “dieci.” In other words, let’s make it an even ten. Euros that is. He heaped some more in the bag, and I was too sheepish to say no. Despite the cost, too, a part of me was thrilled to be walking away with such a mound of perfect chanterelles.
I’m not just trying to justify my spree by saying this, but this picture really doesn’t do justice to their size. The biggest ones are as broad as my palm.
These mushrooms are so flavorful—with such a delicate combination of earthiness, sweetness, and nuttiness—that they’re best served by simple cooking. Tonight, I’ll be making a pasta dish in which every ingredient is there only to stage and spotlight these graceful plants.
I don’t have hand-cut papardelle, but here’s a version of the dish I had at Pane e Salute, in Woodstock, Vermont.
Chanterelles with Fresh Papardelle
enough pasta to serve four as a first or main course
1 small shallot, minced
1 sage leaf, sliced, or some fresh thyme leaves
1/2 c. dry, light-bodied white wine
freshly shredded parmesan
a pile of chanterelles, sliced into nice, bite-sized pieces
Sauté chanterelles and shallot in butter over medium heat, seasoned with salt and pepper. Remove them to a plate, and deglaze pan with wine. Reduce it a bit. Meanwhile, boil pasta until al dente. Add the chanterelles back into the pan to warm. Toss the pasta with olive oil and parmesan, and serve topped with chanterelles and more cheese.