As always, notes, extra photos, and various thoughts on this dish will be after the
recipe. This dish is a perfect meal for transitional seasons—you can warm it up for fall with spices like nutmeg and clove or cool it down for spring with addition of citrus.
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds mixed mushrooms (I prefer Italian oyster, and baby Bella) cut
1 Tablespoons roughly chopped thyme
6 garlic cloves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound fettuccine or favorite noodle pasta
1 cup ricotta
½ cup toasted pine nut pieces
honey for drizzling
Fresh herbs for garnish
Cook pasta according to directions. When draining, reserve 3/4 cup of pasta water. If you have a lot of time between finishing the pasta and finishing the mushrooms, coat with a light pat of butter to prevent sticking.
*Working in batches, sauté mushrooms in a large pan with the salt, garlic, thyme, and pepper. I like to set aside the mushrooms in the final serving dish as I work through them.
In a small sauté pan lightly toast the pine nuts. Keep a close eye on them, as once they get hot, they will quickly gain color and burn through. Agitate often and remove from the pan once ready.
In the same large sauté pan as the mushrooms were prepared, add 1/2 cup of the pasta water, ricotta, salt and pepper. At this time, I like to add some more garlic and if I'm going to, add some crushed red pepper. Add the pasta into the pan and combine thoroughly before tossing in all of the mushrooms. Let simmer on low once all of the contents of the pan are mixed together.
To serve, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. Feel free to top with additional julienned basil leaves, salt, pepper, and other spices as desired.
*Note: don't crowd the mushrooms! Mushrooms contain so much moisture that needs space to be cooked out and if they don't get it, the steam and moisture will stay in the pan and impede that browning on the mushrooms.
I used oyster and crimini (baby bella) mushrooms—these are likely going to be the most accessible. I would advise against white or button mushrooms due to their incredibly mild flavor, when this dish relies on the umami and meaty nature of mushrooms. Epicurious has done a beautiful mushroom write up here—explaining different flavor profiles and alternate names. If you can find them, porcini might be a nice addition to this dish in place of crimini.
This dish is truly a versatile option to keep in your back pocket. I've added nutmeg and clove to warm it up, adding sage in place of basil at the end. The honey melds the warmer spices together and can be a beautiful dish on a cool summer day, one of those early fall afternoons, etc. Alternatively, adding the fresh basil and citrus in place of honey can lighten this dish up for those first warm spring afternoons.
By nature of ricotta, the texture of the sauce is not going to look like a smooth creamy alfredo or bechamel. Embrace it and take it for what it is—the fresher the ricotta, the fresher the mushrooms, the more this recipe comes to life. It is such a delicate recipe, which I love since mushrooms typically are present in bold and meaty cuisines. It really relies on the humble ricotta, quiet oyster mushrooms, and whatever herbs and spices you use to bring it to life.