Campanelle Pasta with Chanterelles


I recently purchased 2 eight-ounce containers of fresh chanterelle mushrooms harvested by the folks at the Birch Creek Forest.  They were at the Saint Paul Farmer’s market and are there almost every week during the spring, summer, and autumn.  That particular day they also had an abundance of dried shiitakes.  And, lucky for us, their selection changes with the seasons.

Later in the week, I also found a box of campanelle pasta in the pantry.  Looking at the pasta shape, it reminded me of the mushrooms (which I had forgotten were in the fridge).   I thought, why not put the two together.

Adding to the good fortune, Jon had just harvested an abundance of red and yellow cherry tomatoes, along with enough onions to fill a large bowl.  To those ingredients, I added some fresh garlic, cream, fresh thyme, and a couple of other odds and ends; i.e., olive oil, salt and pepper.  I had dinner on the table in under a ½ hour.

Yield: Makes a generous 4 servings

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions, 1/4 inch dice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces fresh chanterelle mushrooms, washed and split in half, if large
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
¾ cup heavy cream, I used Cedar Summit Farm
½ pint cherry tomatoes, such as midnight red
½ pint mini yellow plum tomatoes
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
½ pound campanelle pasta

In an 8-quart stockpot, fill with water ¾ full.  Add a hand full of kosher salt and bring to a boil.  If the water boils before you are ready, reduce the heat to low and allow the water to simmer.  The goal is to have the water ready to boil so that the pasta can cook at the same time as the cream is reducing.

After you have the water going for the pasta, place a large sauté pan over medium heat and allow the pan to warm.  Add olive oil and heat for about 30 seconds.  Add onions and sauté until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add ground pepper now (the heat will allow the pepper to bloom and become more flavorful) and the mushrooms.  Sauté mushrooms just until they start to wilt.  Add thyme and garlic, sautéing for another 30 seconds.  Pour in the cream and reduce for about 8 minutes.

As the cream is reducing, cook pasta in the boiling water, stirring occasionally.  Cook until just firm to the bite; about 8 minutes.  Reserve ¼ cup pasta water and then drain pasta into a colander.

Pour pasta into the sauté pan with the mushroom mixture.  Add the ¼ cup of pasta water.  Toss to coat and allow liquid to reduce and thicken.  Serve as soon as you can with some crusty bread.

Variation on the theme:
2 1/2 pounds Italian sweet sausages with casings, cut into 1/4 inch slices. then cut the slices into the shape of a half moon.

Sauté sausage in the pan over medium-high heat until brown, about 8 – 10 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to large bowl.  Add oil to drippings in pan and proceed as above — at the point of sautéing the onions.

Return the sausage back to the pan when the tomatoes are added and tossed together.  Top the final dish with some grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

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