There’s a lot of reasons to get excited about spring: flowers, BBQs and berries, to name a few. But let’s not forget a more under-the-radar version: spring is porcini mushroom season. (Thank mother earth for those April showers, amirite?).
Because they are so difficult to cultivate, porcinis can be hard to find fresh, but during April and May (along with September through November) you’ve got a good shot of finding these fat-stemmed mushrooms at your local grocer (or perhaps farmers’ market).
Porcinis are beloved for their meaty texture and rich, nutty flavor, which is why they make such a great addition to this brown butter, sage pasta.
Browning the butter is key to this recipe – it adds an extra rich, almost nutty flavor to create a rich butter sauce that coats the tagliarini along with melted parmesan.
If you can’t find fresh porcini mushrooms, you can use dried ones (soak them in boiling water for twenty minutes before using), crimini or, if you want to get really decadent, truffles. You can also feel free to use tagliatelle or fettucine if you can’t find tagliarini.
This might be a little richer than your typical warm-weather meal; consider it spring comfort food.
- 1/4 lb. (1 stick) butter
- 1/2 cup sage leaves, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb. porcini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 lb. tagliarini pasta
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
- To taste freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan over low heat. Continue cooking, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the foam subsides and the butter begins to turn brown; about 5 minutes. (Watch carefully, as it can burn quickly.)
- 2 Add the sage leaves and stir, and continue to cook another 5 minutes or so. Once the butter starts to release a nutty aroma and the sage becomes crisp, the sauce is done. Take the pan off the heat and set aside.
- 3 In a separate large frying pan, heat half the olive oil over medium heat, and when shimmering, add half the mushrooms. Spread them out in one layer and let sit without stirring until they turn a golden brown. Then stir and cook another minute or two, until cooked through.
- 4 Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and repeat with the rest of the oil and mushrooms. Return the cooked mushrooms to the pan and set aside. (The brown butter/sage and the mushrooms can be prepared up to several hours in advance.)
- 5 Bring a large (at least 4 quart) pot of water to a boil.
- 6 Add the tagliarini and salt to the boiling water, and cook over high heat until al dente (still slightly firm in the center, 3-4 minutes if dried), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. (If using dried fettuccine, it will take 10-12 minutes to cook).
- 7 While the pasta is cooking, reheat the brown butter/sage and the mushrooms over medium heat.
- 8 Drain pasta and dump into a large serving bowl (without rinsing). Add the brown butter/sage and toss, then add mushrooms and half the cheese and toss again. Add salt to taste.
- 9 Serve garnished with the rest of the grated cheese, a few fresh sage leaves, and freshly-ground black pepper.