Main Dishes / Pasta / Vegetables

Nigella’s Lemon, Garlic and Thyme Mushroom Linguine

This is an extremely quick, no-fuss pasta recipe adapted from the ever-gorgeous Nigella. There is very little prep work involved and it’s a great reminder of how it’s entirely possible to extract a lot of flavour from just a handful of simple ingredients. In other words, you spend more time eating than cooking (and washing up), which in my book is a very good deal.

Just a note: this recipe makes use of raw mushrooms. Yes, I meant raw mushrooms. Uncooked mushrooms are absolutely okay to eat, as long as those mushrooms are edible in the first place. To be honest, I’ve never had raw mushrooms before either; they have a rather curious, soft and slightly crumbly texture and they are very, very fresh. In fact, ‘fresh’ is a good word to describe this whole dish: the mixture of lemon juice, thyme and garlic serves as a sharp, light accompaniment to the linguine. It’s not a traditional Italian pasta by any means, but it should, in Nigella’s words, “[sit] uncontroversially in her culinary canon”.

The only modification I’ve made to Nigella’s original recipe (other than halving it and changing the proportion of some of the ingredients) is that I’ve steeped the mushrooms in the olive oil/garlic/thyme mixture for a couple of hours rather than just tossing them prior to serving; I think it allows the mushrooms to absorb the flavours from the dressing while giving them a softer texture (after all, the mushrooms will absorb oil). If you’re still uncomfortable with eating raw mushrooms, you could try sautéeing them lightly in butter (or garlic butter, even) before tossing them with the rest of the ingredients. If you cannot find chestnut mushrooms (which I couldn’t), button mushrooms (or indeed, any mushroom) will do just as well.

Lemon, Garlic and Thyme Mushroom Linguine
Adapted from Nigella
Serves 2-3

What you need

  • 125 g button or Swiss brown mushrooms
  • 250 g linguine
  • 40 mL extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bunch chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grated Parmesan (or to taste)
  • 1 1/2 tsp table salt (or to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Slice the mushrooms thinly and place them in a bowl, together with the crushed garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest. Strip the leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme and add the leaves to the bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the ingredients before adding the salt. Toss the ingredients in the bowl, mixing well and allowing the mushrooms to be coated with the dressing. Place the bowl in the fridge and leave to marinade for 2 to 4 hours.

Take the bowl out of the fridge shortly before serving to allow the dressing to come to around room temperature. Boil of a pot of salted water before adding the pasta, cooking according to packet instructions till it is al dente. Drain the pasta loosely and rinse it under cold running water. Then toss the pasta and the dressing together, adding the chopped parsley and Parmesan and seasoning with freshly ground black pepper before serving.

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