I already have a go-to pasta and mushrooms recipe, but Felicity Cloake’s “perfect” version looked intriguingly different, so I gave it a try. I can recommend it — more fiddly to make, but it has an interestingly complex flavour. I adapted it a bit — she recommends whizzing the dried mushrooms to a powder and using it as a thickener, but that seemed like a recipe for grit in your sauce. Instead I soaked them and then chopped very small, and used the water (minus grit!) in the sauce. Also I used a herby white vermouth rather than the white wine or sherry she recommends and I think this really helped the flavour. I used dried tagliatelle, but I think this is a sauce that would go really well with fresh.
20g dried ceps
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter (or 1 extra tbsp olive oil)
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
½ stick celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked, or dried herbes de Provence
250g mushrooms, cut into thin slices
100g chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp white vermouth, dry sherry, or white wine
200 g pasta
Extra-virgin olive oil and grated parmesan, to serve (both optional)
Put the ceps to soak in a small bowl of hot water, and put on a large pan of water for the pasta. Heat the oil and butter in a smallish frying pan and fry the onion gently until soft. Add celery and carrot, cook for another few minutes, then add the garlic and herbs and cook for another minute. Turn up the heat, add the fresh mushrooms, and sauté until they have released most of their juices and stopped steaming. Add vermouth and continue to cook till the liquid is reduced to almost nothing. Finely chop the soaked ceps and add them with the tomatoes and some of the soaking water. Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat, cover, and leave to cook for ten minutes while you cook the pasta. Taste and season the sauce. Drain the pasta, keeping back a little of the cooking water, and toss with the sauce; if it looks a bit dry, add some cooking water. Serve drizzled with olive oil and generously sprinkled with grated parmesan.