One of the things I love about fall is the assortment of wild mushrooms available at the farmers market. I absolutely love mushrooms—they are fantastically hearty and filling. Together with artichokes they add so much flavor and texture to this delicious pasta dish.
Harvesting mushrooms in Germany is big business. Germany has some 5,000 mushroom species, many of which are considered delicacies. There was an article in our newspaper last year about the “Mushroom Mafia”, a bunch of professional and very determined foragers breaking bad to gather truckloads of prized porcini mushrooms. Yes, fresh, they can sell for up to 50€ a kilo. Picking by the basket full is fully okay, but by the truckload, that’s illegal.
Picking mushrooms can be a risky business, especially in in parts of eastern Europe and around Munich, since in some spots the soil still contains high chemical levels resulting from the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986. Plus, it’s also not uncommon for inexperienced mushroom pickers to harvest the wrong ones and accidently poison themselves, When I was living in Munich, it wasn’t uncommon to see the local apotheke (pharmacy) advertising its services to help hobby foragers screen their prized picks.
PASTA WITH ARTICHOKES AND WILD MUSHROOMS
500 g penne or pasta of your choice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
500 g mixed mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and chopped into small bits (I used a mix of shiitake, oyster, king oyster as well as white and brown button mushrooms)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
6 artichoke hearts, (preferably fresh from a delicatessen, alternatively, marinated artichokes from a glass), quartered
3/4 cup dry white wine (180 ml)
3/4 cup chicken (or vegetable) broth (180 ml)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon capers
1/4 teaspoon dry crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more as garnish (25 g)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Fill the large pot with cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and add pasta, stirring occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook according to packet instructions, until al dente.
2. Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, shallots, garlic and oregano; sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
3. Add artichokes and white wine; sauté 3 minutes, until wine reduces slightly.
4. Add the broth, lemon juice, capers and crushed red pepper; cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and mix together until just melted.
5. Add the pasta and parsley and toss until pasta is coated. Add parmesan cheese and toss again. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Transfer to serving bowls and garnish with additional parmesan, if desired. Serve immediately and enjoy!