This has, of late, become my new favourite, stand-by pasta dish. The minute I saw Nigella make this on her new "Express" TV show I knew I was going to make it - incidentally, when I say new TV show I mean new to us here in New Zealand, the rest of the world probably saw it 2 years ago!
But I digress. As soon as I saw it I had to make it the very next day, and have been making it every week since. It is incredibly simple to make; requires just a handful of ingredients and a bit of chopping; the only cooking involved is that of boiling the pasta; the whole dish comes together in just the time it takes to cook the pasta; and it is great hot or cold the next day if by some remote chance you have leftovers.
I've made a couple of small changes to the recipe, and I don't stick to any specific quantities or measurements - this is a real "handful-of-this-and-a-slosh-of-that" kind of recipe. The original recipe called for including some garlic. Since I didn't have any on hand the first time I made this, I just left it out. To be honest, having now tasted it without the garlic, I don't think that the inclusion of it would be an enhancement. The garlic doesn't get cooked, so I suspect that the raw garlic could overpower the more subtle flavours of this dish, and so I've continued to leave it out but you should feel free to add it if you choose. The other little change I made is to add in a handful of toasted walnuts at the end - after all what could be better with pasta, mushrooms, lemon and parsley than toasted walnuts. I like the little bit of extra texture that they add, and the smokey nutty taste works well with the "woodsy" flavour of the mushrooms. That said, toasting and chopping walnuts is a little bit of extra work, so if you don't feel inclined to that just leave them out.
I do urge you to try this dish - it's great for a quick evening meal, and very healthy - mushrooms are low in calories, sodium and fat; they are also rich in potassium (one medium portabello mushroom contains more potassium than a banana or glass of orange juice); and are an excellent source of riboflavin, niacin, calcium, iron and selenium. Although this is a vegetarian dish I can tell you that the meat lover around here loves it too, and although I am giving you instructions here for feeding two people this could easily be increased to feed more.
Adapted from "Nigella Express"
linguine, about 250g
mushrooms (I used Swiss Browns), about 300g
1 lemon, juice and grated zest
extra virgin olive oil, about 1/3 cup
(this is a time when you need to use the very best quality olive oil you can lay your hands on)
garlic, 1 clove (optional)
thyme, fresh or dried
toasted walnuts, handful (optional)
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
salt & pepper
Bring a large pot of water to the boil, salt liberally, add pasta to the water and cook until al dente.
Meanwhile, prepare the mushrooms.
Don't wash the mushrooms, but if any are particularly dirty just wipe them clean with a damp paper towel. I don't remove the stems, but I do trim the woody ends off. Slice the mushrooms fairly thinly.
Put all the sliced mushrooms into a large serving bowl. If using garlic, chop or mince finely and add to the mushrooms.
Add the olive oil and lemon juice to the mushrooms.
Add thyme and freshly grated lemon zest. Sprinkle over some flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Toss everything together well. Taste, and then adjust seasoning as necessary, also more oil and or lemon juice as necessary.
Drain pasta, reserving a little of the pasta water. Add the drained pasta to the mushrooms and toss everything together.
Add about half a cup of the reserved pasta water, a generous handful (or two) of freshly grated parmesan, and the toasted walnuts.
Toss everything together well, adding a little more of the pasta water if necessary, until all the pasta is well coated. Sprinkle flat-leaf parsley over the top and serve with extra freshly grated parmesan on the side.
A fresh green salad and some crusty bread would be great accompaniments to this.
For more great recipe ideas like this, I recommend: