Spelt Spaghetti with Wild Mushrooms & Parmesan Cream
(Spaghetti di Farro con Funghi e Crema di Parmigiano)
Paolo Lazzari, who runs a restaurant called Vini da Gigio, loves his food and is justly proud of his wine list. He runs the restaurant with his sister, Laura, and chef Davide. They took it on from their late parents to keep on the family tradition. Paolo is wheat intolerant so many of the dishes are low in gluten. Yet he is able to eat spelt (an ancient wheat). We tried his spelt pasta made with chanterelles and a cream of Parmesan made from the 24-month old variety, which is crumbly, dry and full of intense flavour. I really like this cheese cream and in fact it is a useful sauce for all sorts of dishes. A Venetian luxury would be to top with some shaved black truffle.
320 g (11 1/4 oz) dried spelt, whole-wheat or white spaghetti
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
sprig of rosemary
5 sprigs of thyme
250 g (9 oz) chestnut or wild mushrooms such as chanterelles, sliced
10 g ( 1/2 oz) dried porcini soaked in 100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) water for 15 minutes (optional)
extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
For the Parmesan cream
50 g (2 oz) Parmesan, finely grated
100 ml (3 ½ fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) cream
Put the spaghetti into a large pan of fiercely boiling well-salted water and stir through. Cook according to the packet instructions. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat, add the garlic, rosemary and 4 sprigs of the thyme and cook for 2 minutes. If using the porcini take them out of the water when soft and slice. Add all the mushrooms to the pan and fry them for 5–7 minutes until cooked through and the water has evaporated from them. Remove the pan from the heat and discard the sprigs of rosemary and thyme. To make the cheese cream, melt the Parmesan into the cream in a small pan and keep over a very low heat.
Drain the pasta as soon as it is ready and tip it into the mushroom mixture allowing a little of the cooking water to drip into the sauce to loosen it. Toss through and serve in warm bowls drizzled with the cheese cream, a swirl of extra-virgin olive oil and the rest of the thyme leaves pulled from the stems.
Recipe excerpted with permission from The Long and the Short of Pasta by Kate and Giancarlo Caldesi published by Hardie Grant Books October 2018, RRP $29.99 hardcover.
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