Monday, 10 April 2017

1970s mushroom pasta recipe

mushroom, cream and sherry spaghetti

I rather like filing - the satisfying illusion that you can organise and control your life. It appeals to the librarian in me. 
I've done less filing of late. My computer desktop is a creative mess, full of screen shots and mood boards and folders. A subject that consumes me is how to organise my massive collection of cookbooks? By colour coding, the alphabet, by size or by subject? What do you do?
I did buy a dymo label maker and spent a contented weekend polishing, rationalising and marking my spice collection: I'm keen to 'file' my food.
On my desktop I have an excel document where I tried to list every single vinegar ever but then my daughter said I was weird and it would be a boring blog post. Somewhere I have a citrus family tree table too. I'm interested in systems and relationships. Filing makes this clearer. 
With this in mind, I've organised the whole of pasta and its sauces into five 'families'. 

1) Tomato - includes napoletana, bolognese, amatriciana, puttanesca and arabiata
2) Creamy - includes smoked salmon with crème fraîche, macaroni cheese, cacio e pepe, alfredo
3) Herby - includes pesto or greens such as orecchiette with cime de rapa
4) Fishy - includes vongole, tuna
5) Mushroom/truffle

Here, in my latest piece for winetrust100, I talk about the wines that match with pasta. Like with pizza, you match to the sauce: tomato sauces need red wine, creamy and fishy favours white wine. Mushroomy-truffley sauces can go either way: a light red such as a pinot noir or a full-bodied white.
Looking at the picture above, it looks a bit old fashioned, like something from the Super Cook magazine series I used to collect as a child. Mushrooms and curly parsley are so 1970s. But be assured that this dish was one of the most delicious things I've made in ages. 
You can replace the sherry with white wine but what I love about sherry is that you can keep the bottle for years, just using a little at a time, rather than opening a whole bottle of wine which will oxidise in a couple of days. If you are drinking by yourself, you don't want to spoil a good bottle of wine.

Mushroom, cream and sherry spaghetti recipe

Serves 2 people 2 servings each

300g of good quality 11 minute spaghetti
50g butter, salted or unsalted
2tbsp olive oil
200g organic button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
a generous splash of dry sherry (fino)
350ml creme fraiche or double cream
Pepper (I used white)
A few sprigs of curly parsley

  • Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of salted boiling water for 9 minutes. (Please use a large enough pan. It's one of my bugbears, people squeezing spaghetti into too-small-pans. Likewise salad in too-small-bowls. Why? Just why. You can't toss a salad in a teacup). 
  • In the meantime, take a large sauteuse (deep frying pan) or medium sized saucepan and start the sauce. (It needs to be big enough to add the spaghetti to it).
  • Melt the butter, add the olive oil and fry the mushrooms for a few minutes. I used button mushrooms but use any mushroom you like. James Wong says Portobello mushrooms contains twice the amount of chitin, an immune boosting fibre.
  • Add the garlic, stir, and the sherry, fry for one minute.
  • Add the cream.
  • Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. 
  • Season then add parsley.


  1. Interesting. We did not eat this in the 70s in Napoli but I remember (ok late 70s are my memories) lots of penne with cream and smoked salmon (sooo luxurious!) or 'boscaiola' in restaurants which was made with peas, ham and mushrooms and of course cream.

  2. Sounds delicious and great for a quick crowd pleaser for visitors. Would it be a heinous crime if I added a handful of petit pois to recipe?


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