This is one of my favourite recipes because it is so simple and yet tastes as if you've really thought about it. I think it's the parsley that lifts it from something that could be a little too creamy and bland, that and the Parmesan. Even people (especially children) who maintain that they don't like mushrooms will eat this, I promise.
This is not a dish to indulge in if you suffer from high cholesterol, but having said that, mushrooms are a low-calorie food. I wonder what it is about mushrooms that makes people either love or hate them? Personally, I love them, especially ones that I find lurking in fields. It helps, of course, to know which are the poisonous ones - hardly something you can discover by trial and error.
I think the fact that they can kill you might go some way to explaining the aura around mushrooms.
Human consumption of mushrooms goes all the way back to ancient Egypt, if we can rely on the hieroglyphics of 4,600 years ago. Apparently, the pharaohs were so enamoured of the taste of the mushroom that they decreed it a food fit for only royal consumption, and forbade commoners to eat it. So that would have counted me out. And I guess that way they never ran out of them. Very clever, those pharaohs.
There is also a rumour that the French King Louis XIV was one of the first mushroom growers. At the time, they were cultivated in special mushroom-growing caves around Paris, which must have been musty old places to hang out in. I suppose it stands to reason if you consider that today the truffle is so expensive it is out of reach for most people. And the two have a lot in common in terms of taste and texture.
Mushroom rituals were practised throughout the world in years gone by, one belief being that they could produce super-human strength, lead you to the realm of the gods and even help you find things you had lost. I am not suggesting any of this will happen if you follow this recipe, but you never know.
Now where did I put my car keys ... ?
MAKE IT YOURSELF
Pappardelle with mushrooms
150g white onion, finely chopped (about
1 big or 2 small)
1 tsp garlic, crushed
3 tsp olive oil
800g button mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1l heavy cream
640g dry pappardelle or tagliatelle
3 tsp parsley, finely chopped
150g Parmesan, grated
1. Sweat the onions and garlic with the olive oil and the butter in a large casserole on a low heat for at least 10 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning.
2. Slice the mushrooms 2mm thick, add to the pan and increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring continuously, until the mushrooms stop sweating water.
3. Season with salt and pepper and add the cream.
4. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring continuously.
5. Cook the pasta for 6-8 minutes in boiling salted water, stirring often with a long, big fork to ensure it does not stick together.
6. Combine the pasta with the sauce and stir well, finishing with the chopped parsley.
7. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve.