Liven up those pasta dishes with wild mushrooms

If you are lucky enough to have a grocer that stocks wild mushrooms, make the most of their seasonal abundance with some enticing autumn pasta recipes. Rather than going for the familiar white button mushrooms, look out for chanterelles, shiitake, morels and porcini. Even chestnut mushrooms will make a tasty change.

With wild mushrooms, don’t swamp them in strong sauces; just bring out their flavour with a judicious addition of seasoning and herbs. A tiny drop of truffle oil can turn a pasta dish into something memorable.

Pasta partners

Wild mushrooms make a perfect accompaniment to home-made pasta. Finely chopped with garlic and parsley, and perhaps a little ricotta, they make a great stuffing for cannelloni or ravioli.

Use a mixture of chanterelles, morels, porcini and oyster mushrooms for an attractive and interesting sauce for spaghetti or pappardelle. Fry for about four to five minutes in a little garlic, with plenty of ground black pepper and a little salt. Serve with pasta that has been lightly dressed with olive oil, and add a little grated or thinly-sliced parmesan.

For a richer sauce, combine wild mushrooms in a creamy sauce with peas and a dash of white wine. Use fresh peas when they are in season, otherwise frozen peas are perfectly acceptable. Parsley or chopped tarragon add an extra flavour element to this dish.

Create a variant on spaghetti carbonara by combining chopped wild mushrooms with a little finely-diced bacon or pancetta and egg yolk. It might sound like the pasta equivalent of a Full English breakfast but it works well in small helpings.

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