Monday, January 13, 2014

Nigella Lawson's linguine with lemon, garlic and thyme mushrooms

Most people's first reaction to the idea of putting raw mushrooms in a pasta is: 'No thanks'. But there is a strange alchemy that occurs in this dish.

Even though the mushrooms are never cooked, they're not exactly raw, either, by the time they join the linguine. While marinating in a cocktail of thyme, lemon juice, zest, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil (don't you just want to dive in right now?), they completely lose their foamy texture, and transform into something fragrant and silky, much like cooked mushrooms, but with a fresher, more delicate flavour. They soak up the marinade so that each slice, consumed with the pasta, delivers an intense burst of flavour (did I mention the thyme, lemon juice, zest, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil?).

I've decided to try my hand at the LCHF (low carb high fat) diet made popular recently in SA by Tim Noakes, so I won't be eating this in pasta form any time soon. But I always thought these mushrooms would go brilliantly with white fish or chicken. Prawns even. Or perhaps pork! (Okay, easy girl, steady on.)

It's only been three days, but so far I am scoffing meat and cheese like there's no tomorrow, and LOVING IT. Carbs are a distant memory when one is suddenly given full permission to eat all the food previously believed forbidden, or at least best consumed in moderation. Bacon, butter and cream! Oh my!

Anyway. To all of you still happily ensconced in Carbville (and I may well return to the fold if this LCHF experiment proves ineffective), I just know you'll love this.

Nigella Lawson's linguine with lemon, garlic and thyme mushrooms

[Serves 46]

Says Nigella: This is one of my proudest creations and, I suppose, a good example of a recipe that isn't originally from Italy, but sits uncontroversially in her culinary canon. I don't think it would be too presumptuous to name this linguine ai funghi crudi. It is about as speedy as you can imagine: you do no more to the mushrooms than slice them, steep them in oil, garlic, lemon and thyme and toss them into the hot cooked pasta.If all you can find is regular button mushrooms, this pasta is still worth making — so no excuses.

225 grams chestnut mushrooms
80 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Maldon salt (or 1½ teaspoons table salt)
1 small clove garlic (crushed)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 sprigs fresh thyme (leaves stripped off)
500 grams linguine
1 bunch fresh parsley (chopped)
23 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or to taste)
freshly ground black pepper

1. Slice the mushrooms finely, and put in a large bowl with the oil, salt, crushed garlic, lemon juice and zest, and marvellously scented thyme leaves.
2. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions and drain loosely, retaining some water. Quickly put the drained pasta into the bowl with the mushroom mixture.
3. Toss everything together well, then add the chopped parsley, grated cheese and pepper to taste, before tossing again, and eat with joy in your heart.

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