This caramelised mushroom and fennel pasta is a simple, fresh and flavourful dish you’ll find yourself making often. A few easy techniques yield a delicious result. It is just as great as a meal for one or to make one big batch for a big group.The caramelising of the mushrooms and fennel helps develop tons of flavour really quickly making this the perfect plate of pasta to eat. A little bit of wine and a lot of pecorino seal the deal.
I make this dish often (particularly on days I’ve just been to the farmers market and returned home with ridiculously fresh fennel, leeks and mushrooms). Using a mix of mushrooms really elevates this dish, lending it a great degree of texture and complexity. My personal favourites are a combination of Swiss, oyster, brown mushrooms but don’t let not having these stop you. Brown your mushrooms with patience and don’t season them until done. Adding salt too soon makes them a watery mess and we don’t need that in our life! Move your fennel and leek around constantly so they develop a lovely golden even caramelisation.
This recipe is great for store-bought dried pasta, any shape will do. Make sure you cook the pasta for about 1-2 minutes less than required for al-dente texture. This helps finish the pasta cooking in the sauce itself which allows it to absorb all the flavours. Use some of the pasta water to control the consistency of the sauce. With the addition of cheese (Pecorino or Parmesan, you pick), make the sauce simply coat the pasta and give it a nice glossy finish. I trust you to decide how much cheese. I personally much prefer a final glug of good quality olive oil once the pasta is cooked as it gives a much better mouthfeel.
You’ll find yourself very happy with how great this caramelised mushroom and fennel pasta will turn out, with minimum effort!
Caramelised Mushroom and Fennel Pasta
- 2 cups Dry Pasta (shape of your choice, I've used farfalle)
- 2 cups Mushrooms (use mix of Swiss,Oyster,Brown etc)
- 1 cup Fennel thinly sliced
- 1 cup Leeks thinly sliced
- 4 cloves Garlic thinly sliced
- 1 tsp Lemon Zest
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Cheese grated
- 1/2 cup White Wine
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- Red Chilli Flakes to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Salt to taste
- Parsley Leaves to garnish
- Heat half the olive oil in a pan. When hot, add the mushrooms making sure not to crowd the pan. Fry until golden edges. Don't season your mushrooms. Trust me! Set aside.
- In the same pan, add remaining olive oil. Add in the thinly sliced garlic, fresh cracked pepper and chilli flakes and let them bloom in the hot oil. Throw in the leeks and fennel, season with salt and fry until golden and caramelised. Move them around regularly to get even colour and avoid any burning.
- Add the white wine to deglaze the pan and let it reduce to less than half.
- Cook the pasta as per pack instructions in salted boiling water until al dente. Save a cup of the pasta water and drain.
- Add the cooked pasta, mushrooms, pecorino and lemon zest and toss together, add in spoonfuls of pasta water until you have a lush sauce that clings to the pasta. Adjust seasoning.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and more cheese should you so choose. Reward yourself with a glass of wine to enjoy with your pasta!