Oh I am so excited for this one. I have been itching to get this recipe out to all of you. This spaghetti alla chitarra with roasted wild mushrooms is probably my personal favorite recipe that I have shared with you yet.
You see one of the true “loves” of my life is Italian food (ok, so let’s be honest, I pretty much love anything Italian). I think deep down I have a fantasy that JonPaul and I will leave our life in Connecticut behind, and buy a vineyard in Tuscany. We’d make our own olive oil. I’d make fresh pasta, and the kids would frolic in the countryside as the sun set over the Tuscan hills (who am I kidding…my kids have never frolicked anywhere). At least a girl can dream.
Ok, back to reality and this ridiculous pasta dish…
So my favorite part of this dish, the part that really stands out for me, is the sauce. It’s so simple, yet so rich and deep. It’s made from the pasta cooking liquid. Instead using salted water, here I cooked the pasta in a combination of melted butter, shallots, garlic and chicken stock. The benefit is that the pasta absorbs all of these delicious flavors, while the starches released from the pasta create a beautiful velvety texture. Whenever I’m making pasta, I always reserve some of the cooking liquid to help thicken/finish the sauce. This is essentially the same concept, just taken to the next level. Once you’ve mastered this sauce, you can use it to make so many different pasta dishes.
Once the pasta is done cooking I add in lemon zest, fresh thyme and a ton of fresh parmesan cheese. And then of course, we can not forget about those beautiful mushrooms.
I am a huge mushroom person. I add them to a dish whenever I can. Here they provide a wonderful meaty, earthy balance to the this light sauce. The thing about mushrooms, is that they can be kind of tricky to cook well. I find that the less you touch them, the better they are. I like a really crispy, well browned mushroom. There is nothing worse then a soggy slimy mushroom, so let’s avoid that. They key is high heat, and to just them them be. I like to use a cast iron pan when I’m roasting mushrooms, and I always make sure they are in one even layer (no overlapping mushrooms or they “steam” and get soggy).
Add all of those beautifully browned and crispy mushrooms to the pasta, top with more thyme and parmesan and you have a meal made in heaven. All you have to do now is make a big salad, get a loaf of crusty bread, and my friends, it’s like we’re in the Italian countryside (minus the kids frolicking around us). Not bad for a little plate of pasta.
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 3 tbsp of olive oil
- 3 shallots, minced
- 6-8 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups of chicken stock
- 1 cup of water
- 1 lb. of spaghetti alla chitarra (or pasta of your choice)
- 1 lemon
- 1 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 16 oz. of wild mushrooms (any combination of Shiitake, Chanterelles, Enoki, Oyster, and Porcini, and Hen of the Woods)
- ¼ cup of toasted pine nuts
- salt/pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly wash, dry and chop mushrooms. Place mushrooms, 1 shallot and 2 garlic cloves in a cast iron skillet, drizzle with a tbsp of olive oil and toss. Make sure mushrooms are in one even layer. Roast at 425 degrees for 30 minutes (or until mushrooms are well browned). Set mushrooms aside.
- Meanwhile, In a large pot, melt butter over medium/low heat. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil, remaining shallot and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add chicken stock, and a cup of water to the pot, and bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp of salt. Add spaghetti all chitarra to boiling chicken stock, reduce heat to a low boil.
- Cooking note:
- The pasta may not be entirely covered by the cooking liquid, and that's ok. You can choose to "break up" the pasta if you're working with long pieces (the pasta I use comes into "rolled up portions" versus long strands so it fits will in the pot). Just break long pasta in half before adding to the pot.
- Since you are using less cooking liquid, be mindful to stay near the pot and continue to stir and mix pasta to make sure it is not sticking together, sticking to the pot and all of the noodles are evenly cooked. As the pasta "softens" it becomes easier to mix.
- Cook pasta until just al dente (do NOT overcook). Tun off heat. In the pot with the cooked pasta add the zest/juice of one lemon, ½ cup of Parmigiano cheese, black pepper, and thyme. Gently toss.
- Transfer cooked pasta to serving dish. Add roasted mushrooms on top and gently toss. Garnish with additional Parmigiano, thyme and toasted pine nuts.
- Serve immediately and enjoy