Wild Mushroom and Butter Bean Pasta (Serves 4-6)
We are permitted to heat up the kitchen now that the weather is cooling down. Not that boiling water for pasta will raise the temperature significantly. But there’s a shift of focus and an urge to fill the room with autumn aromas.
I find myself craving the woodsy scent of wild mushrooms. I also want a heartier, more substantial pasta than the kind we usually make for summer meals.
2 cups fresh butter beans or other shelling beans or 1 cup dried cannellini or other white bean, cleaned
1 small bay leaf
Salt and pepper
85g thickly sliced pancetta or slab bacon, cut crosswise into 0.5cm wide lardons
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
340g wild chanterelle mushrooms, thickly sliced or chopped or a mixture of pale oyster mushrooms
3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary, plus a sprig for the pasta pot
450g bucatini, spaghetti or other dry pasta
2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
Parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated (optional)
Put beans in a pot and cover with water by 5cm.
Add bay leaf and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Let beans cool to room temperature in cooking liquid and set aside.
When cool, taste and correct salt. (If using dried beans, cooking time will be about 1 hour.)
Prepare a large pot of water for cooking pasta and bring to a boil.
Put pancetta in a wide, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and stir to coat.
Let lardons sizzle gently until crisp and golden, about 3 minutes.
Add onions, season lightly with salt and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and softened, about 5 minutes. Remove onion mixture from pan and set aside.
Return pan to stove over high heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. When oil is hot, add chanterelles and stir to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper and cook, stirring until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
Turn heat to medium and stir in garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and chopped rosemary. Cook for a minute more and turn off the heat.
Add a handful of salt to the pasta water, then add rosemary sprig and bring to a full boil.
Add bucatini and stir well. Adjust heat to keep pasta cooking briskly. Cook until firmly al dente (you should feel it is not quite done) and drain.
While pasta is cooking, put skillet of mushrooms back on medium-high heat. Add reserved onion-pancetta mixture and heat through, stirring.
Add beans and 1 cup bean cooking liquid and bring to a simmer.
Add cooked pasta to pan and stir well, coating the pasta with the mushroom-bean mixture. While stirring, let pasta finish cooking, about 1 minute more, adding a little more bean liquid if necessary. Transfer to a wide pasta bowl, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Offer grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese if you wish.
The New York Times