Autumn is here and the mushroom season is underway. My father's hobby is mycology and as a child we picked porcini mushrooms in the woods outside Rome. A post-rain autumn day was perfect. This recipe uses dried porcini, but do try it with fresh – often called ceps here - if you can find them. I created this recipe one evening at friends' house, when we didn't know what to prepare. I raided the cupboard and fridge and this is what I came up with. We loved it, and it is now part of my repertoire.
Time: 20 minutes. Serves 6 (starter) or 4 (main)
● 50g dried porcini mushrooms
● 200ml hot water
● 4-5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
● 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
● Small bunch of rosemary
● 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced OR a pinch of dry crushed chilli
● Splash of white wine
● 200g buffalo mozzarella, finely diced
● Zest and juice of 1 lemon
● 50g rocket
● 400g egg fettuccine, dried or fresh
● Salt and black pepper to taste
● Soak the dried porcini in the hot water for 10 minutes.
● Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large, deep frying pan. Add the rosemary, chilli, salt and pepper and a splash of white wine. Stir.
● Once the porcini have soaked, drain and squeeze them, reserving the water. Roughly chop and add to the frying pan and cook for a couple of minutes.
● Sieve the soaking water to remove any residue, then add it to the pan. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes stirring occasionally until the liquid reduces by half. Remove the rosemary stalk.
● Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add 2 handfuls of rock salt and the fettuccine. Cook in accordance with the pack instructions.
● Tip: Before draining the pasta, remove 1 cup of boiling water from the pan to use later to create a creamier sauce.
● Drain the fettuccine and add it to the mushrooms. Stir well over a medium heat, and, if dry, add some of the water you just put aside until you reach a creamy consistency.
● Transfer to a serving bowl and add the mozzarella, rocket, lemon juice and zest and pepper. Mix and serve immediately.