I realised the other day that mushrooms haven’t really taken centre stage on the blog so far, which is something that needs to be remedied asap. Because mushrooms are the new chicken. Well, they are to me, anyway. I love any type of mushroom with the same passion I once had for chicken. There are some similarities; both are incredibly versatile and lend themselves well to a good marinating but also have enough flavour to stand on their own with only a sprinkling of salt and pepper. For me, the added bonus of the fungi is that no animals were harmed, obviously.
So my love of mushrooms runs deep, and Nigella Lawson’s linguine with lemon, garlic and thyme mushrooms, which I’ve reworked slightly here, is a celebration of that love. As far as I’m concerned, it is the best recipe in her Express book, which has quite a few gems in it. I don’t keep track but I think that if I had to name the dish I make most often (with the exception of staples like spag bol or potatoes, veg and some sort of protein) this could very well be it. Nigella writes in her book that ‘this dish had to be forcibly taken away from me during the photo shoot for this book, otherwise I’d have eaten it all before it could even have its picture taken’. Well, let’s just say that you are also very lucky that this post includes photos. 😉
The reason why this is mushroom heaven for one is that the Eastender is squeamish when it comes to certain types of mushroom, which means it is a solitary pleasure for me. And as such, it is perfect. I don’t mind cooking an elaborate meal for just myself (at all) but this dish possesses the minimum-fuss-maximum-satisfaction factor you sometimes want a meal for one to have. Having said that, you could easily stretch this recipe to feed a crowd. And without the pasta it’s simply gorgeously marinated mushrooms you could serve with drinks or as a side dish.
I have fiddled with the original recipe a bit, which is no surprise as I eat this on my own instead of surrounded by the small crowd Nigella suggests. Surprisingly (or maybe not) I use a few more chestnut mushrooms but I do lower the salt and oil content and leave out the parmesan. Partly because I cut out animal-based ingredients whenever I can but mainly because I don’t want any creaminess to interfere with the zingy, sharp flavours of the garlic and lemon. Oh, and I sprinkle over chopped chives, not parsley, simply because I don’t really care for parsley.
Also, as the mushrooms are basically served raw, I like to give the marinade a chance to ‘cook’ the mushrooms, which is why I assemble the mushrooms before I boil the water for the pasta. By the way, if you don’t like the idea of eating raw cultivated mushrooms, the manure they are grown in is in fact pasteurised, so no worries there.
Finally, this may seem like quite a large portion for one person, but it also makes a perfect mid-morning snack, eaten cold the next day. But to be perfectly honest, I usually just finish the lot.
250 g chestnut mushroom, sliced neither finely nor thickly
2 ½ tbsp (about 40 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 scant tsp Maldon sea salt flakes (less than half of that if you are using free-flowing salt)
1 small clove of garlic, finely grated
zest of 1 lemon (preferably organic) and juice of half of one
1 tsp dried thyme
125 gr linguine
2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
– Put the mushrooms in a wide bowl (the one you will be serving the dish in) and add the oil, salt, garlic, lemon juice and zest, and thyme. Mix well and leave to stand.
– Bring water to the boil in a large pot and cook the linguine according to packet instructions.
– Drain in a sieve or colander (but not too thoroughly, you’ll want some of the water clinging to the linguine to end up in the finished dish) and add to the mushrooms in the bowl.
– Toss (I use salad cutlery), sprinkle with the chives and eat ‘with joy in your heart’ as Nigella says. She is so right.