Truffle Mushroom Pasta with Gremolata


As a food writer, truffle oil — the closest I’m getting to that elusive mushroom these days — poses an engaging challenge for my powers of description. Can I get away with saying it has notes of armpit, if said armpit belonged to someone wildly attractive? Can something smell silky? If I say it tastes like running your fingers through the cool, mossy detritus on a forest floor while holding a roasted bulb of garlic in your mouth — without chewing! — will that make sense? That it tastes like being proposed to by a crackling fire in an alpine lodge that’s been in your family for generations?

Either way, you can see how we’re only working with a couple of drops of it at a time here.


That being said, you can leave out the truffle oil and this will still be a fantastically delicious mushroom pasta, so if all that talk of armpits and detritus is too much for your sensibilities, or if you simply don’t like the taste of truffle or you — quite reasonably — don’t have access to a bottle of truffle oil, there’s no need to miss out. Mushrooms themselves are no slouch in the arena of flavour that inspires overcooked metaphors, especially when you have a mix of oyster mushrooms and brown Swiss buttons as I have here — oysters for texture and delicately pronounced fungal richness, brown buttons for barky intensity, along with a sweetening splash of mirin (as with last week’s recipe, successfully taking the place of the wine I would’ve used if I’d had it) plus some herbs that echo the sylvan nature of the mushrooms.


Putting a full stop on all that headiness is a handful of gremolata, that enlivening fluff comprising parsley, lemon zest, and garlic — I sliced my lemon zest by hand with a knife so that tiny bursts of lemon oil would pierce through the sumptuous pasta, and the sheer freshness of the gremolata is an ideal contrast to that which it covers. I was delightedly surprised to find the frilly fettuccine you see in the pictures at the supermarket by San Remo, an everyday workhorse pasta company. A new pasta shape dropping from a bottom shelf brand is like hearing a new planet has been discovered — at least it is in this economy — and I love the way this fettuccine gathers the mushrooms and herbs up in its ruffled skirts. Any long pasta will do nicely here though — regular fettuccine, linguine, bucatini, or that most reliable stalwart workhorse herself, spaghetti.


The funghi component of this recipe is inspired by the mushroom ragout in Nigella Lawson’s seminal text How To Eat, and you could certainly subtract the pasta from the equation and serve these mushrooms, or an expanded quantity thereof, over polenta or mashed root vegetables or in any such capacity as you desire. And should you be needing further mushroom motivation, you could consider Nigella’s Pasta with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme Mushrooms, my Fast Crispy Sweet Chilli Oyster Mushrooms, or my Green Garlic Oyster Mushrooms.


Truffle Mushroom Pasta with Gremolata

A heady mouthful of truffle-tinted fried mushrooms tangled through long pasta, this dish is classically elegant and incredibly delicious — and if you don’t have (or want) truffle oil, just leave it out. The mushrooms can stand on their own two feet just fine. Recipe by myself, though inspired by Nigella Lawson’s mushroom ragout in How To Eat.

  • 150g oyster mushrooms
  • 150g brown button mushrooms
  • 25g butter or 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt for the pasta water, and to taste
  • 200g long pasta (eg fettuccine, spaghetti, bucatini)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1 stock cube of your choice
  • 250ml water
  • leaves from a stem of thyme
  • leaves from a sprig of rosemary
  • A couple drops of white truffle oil
  • 15g Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, extra

1: Wipe any dirt from the mushrooms with a paper towel and trim the clustered ends from the oyster mushrooms. Slice the oyster mushrooms into strips about 1cm wide, and slice the brown button mushrooms thinly. Heat the 25g butter or two tablespoons olive oil in a large, wide frying pan and tumble in the sliced mushrooms, letting them cook over a high heat, stirring and turning occasionally until the mushrooms have reduced in size, browned in places, and the liquid released from them has evaporated. This took me about twenty minutes — don’t rush this step, as the mushrooms really do need to cook down in their own good mysterious time. While the mushrooms are sizzling, bring a large pan of water to the boil and, once it’s boiling, salt it generously. Transfer the cooked mushrooms to a bowl and set aside. Turn off the heat from the mushroom pan, but leave it where it is.

2: Add the 200g pasta to the pan of boiling water, and cook for ten to twelve minutes or until al dente. While this is happening, finely dice the red onion and crush or dice the first garlic clove. In the same, now-empty pan that you cooked the mushrooms in, gently fry the diced onion and garlic over a low heat for a couple minutes until softened. Stir in the two tablespoons of mirin, letting it bubble up, and then stir in the two teaspoons of flour and then crumble in the stock cube. Slowly add half the water and stir it into the onion mixture, which should become thick and saucy as the flour absorbs the water. Add the remaining half cup of water, or as much of it as you need, if the mixture is too thick. Return the mushrooms to the hot pan, along with the thyme and rosemary leaves, and stir to warm through.

3: Remove the pan of mushrooms from the heat and stir in a couple drops of white truffle oil. Drain the pasta and stir it into the mushrooms. Make the gremolata by roughly chopping the 15g of Italian parsley and finely dicing or crushing the garlic clove, and mix them together in a small bowl with the zest of a lemon.

4: Check the pasta for seasoning, and to see if it wants a little more truffle oil. Divide the pasta between two plates and scatter with the gremolata.

Serves 2.


  • You can play around with quantities and varieties of mushrooms — even if all you can find is white button mushrooms this will still taste good.
  • If you have a bottle of red open, or some Marsala handy, you can absolutely use that instead of the mirin.


music lately:

Bring it On by Organized Konfusion, just two verses and a very to-the-point chorus but those verses pin you to the wall! The way Pharoahe Monche kneads the syntax like it were bread dough and rhymes “lobotomy” with “pottery”!

Sunshine by Alice in Chains, Layne Staley’s voice is as much an instrument as anything else going on here: slinky, gravelly, sinewy, gargantuan.

Mother’s Day sung by Sherie Rene Scott from the Broadway musical adaptation of Pedro Almodóvar’s utterly glorious Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Despite its astronomically stacked cast this musical, for reasons I can’t fathom, was not well-received and didn’t last long. At least we have the cast recording; this number sung by Ms Scott is so wistful and acoustic it could almost be an early-to-mid-90s singer/songwriter track that got to number 37 on the hot 100 charts.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours every month. There’s no better time than right now — your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

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