Sunday, January 18, 2009

pasta with chanterelles and fresh ricotta

pasta with chanterelles, cream and ricotta

It is still, after 20 years of living in the United States, utterly shocking to me how much chanterelle mushrooms cost. When I was growing up in Russia, they were the one of the cheapest mushrooms around, though we picked most of our mushrooms ourselves. That’s the kind of thing you do in Russia – pick your own mushroom and berries in the forest. It’s a bit cliché and “Sound of Music” but I assure you we didn’t do this with a song. And as for mushroom-picking, I used to be quite good at it too. You had to have a keen eye, discerning one brown thing from the next, a twig or a leaf sometimes was hiding a beautiful porcini or a cremini mushroom. And as for chanterelles, you could see their bright yellow tops a mile away.

I also had memorized names of all the mushrooms and how they looked and how to tell their poisonous look-alikes from the real thing. I’ve forgotten most of it by now, but with the chanterelles, my favorite childhood mushroom, I still remember. Should you find a chanterelle mushroom that has worms inside, it is a fake. Apparently, real chanterelle mushrooms are repugnant to worms. Now, that may have been an old wives tales, but even so, would you want a wormy mushroom?

pasta with chanterelles, cream and ricotta

Regardless, the chanterelle is a pretty fabulous thing, if you ask me. It smells of earth and moist woods and moss and when cooked, it makes the most humble meals glorious and worthy of a special occasion. And this dish, which I slightly spruced up with some fresh ricotta (I really just couldn’t resist it!) was an absolute favorite thing of mine to eat when chanterelles were in season. And ridiculously simple too!

pasta with chanterelles, cream and ricotta

You simply sauté some onions and shallots, add to them the chanterelles and let that cook until reduced in volume (mushrooms shrink when cooked) at which point you add a dollop of sour cream (what dish in Russia goes without?), mix it all in, and then stir it into freshly boiled pasta. It sounds simple and pedestrian, though it’s anything but – and you just might finish the whole dish by yourself, so for your sake, do invite some guests over. This could be one fancy dinner party!

Pasta with Chanterelles and Fresh Ricotta

1 lb pasta, preferably angel hair (but I was out and had to use the thicker kind)
1/3 lb fresh chanterelles
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 shallots thinly sliced
3 tbsp sour cream
Salt and pepper


In a large pot, boil water and cook pasta, and in the mean time cook the mushroom combination. Time it so that the pasta is ready when the mushrooms are.

In a large skillet, over medium heat sauté the onion and shallots until they begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the chanterelles and cook them until the reduce in size, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in sour cream and take off the heat. Serve over pasta with a dollop of fresh ricotta.

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  • 1
    Amy said:

    Ah, that sounds delicious – a dish combining three of my favorite foods: mushrooms, pasta and ricotta! YUM. What a great story about picking the mushrooms when you were young…sounds like it was fun!

    January 18, 2009 9:49 pm
  • 2
    Allyn said:

    I totally know what you’re talking about!
    I’m currently living in the Czech Republic with my husband’s family and there’s a lot of mushroom hunting here in the woods, although for some reason they didn’t do it this year, while I’ve been here, and I feel like I’ve totally missed out.
    Anyway, great site and this looks yummy! I love mixing ricotta with pasta.

    January 19, 2009 5:10 am
  • 3
    Helen said:

    Yum! Chanterelles aren’t exactly cheap over here either but I adore them, so luxurious in flavour. I wouldn’t be able to resist the ricotta either!

    January 19, 2009 8:09 am
  • 4
    Laura said:

    Oh what a fabulous sounding recipe. As soon as I come across some decent chanterelles I am all over it! In addition to the price being offensive, I find it hard to get decent mushrooms in New York (with the exception of a couple of fabulous specialty stores).

    January 19, 2009 2:06 pm
  • 5

    I’m eating a lot of pasta since my wife got pregnant; she doesn’t always fancy a full meal so I’m preparing anything quick for one.
    This is a great little recipe and I’d love to try it.

    January 19, 2009 2:25 pm
  • 6
    Jen said:

    Thanks for sharing those special young foodie memories! I look forward to making this delightful dish.

    January 19, 2009 2:39 pm
  • 7
    yulinka said:

    I have the same memories of childhood mushroom picking. I got excited when I’d find a beliy grib (porcini, I believe). These days I don’t really remember what any of these mushrooms tasted like. It’s been ages since I had them. Even if I wanted to spend the money on chanterelles here (in Wisconsin), I’ve never seen them on sale.

    January 19, 2009 5:46 pm
  • 8
    Dana said:

    Living in the Pacific Northwest, we get comparatively affordable chanterelles (but by no means cheap). I buy them whenever I see them at the Farmer’s Markets and will bookmark this recipe for those occasions. I love that you don’t do anything to mask their incredible flavor, just enhance it!

    January 19, 2009 6:36 pm
  • 9
    radish said:

    Laura – if you go to Manhattan Produce Place (the one in Chelsea Market and i’m butchering the name) they have chanterelles there and they’re not offensively priced.
    Scott, this can be done in 20 minutes – isn’t that awesome? Easy AND tasty!
    Jen, I hope you like it!
    Yulinka, I didn’t remember chanterelles until I had them – and then it came back!
    Dana, I think that simplicity is key sometimes and this is one of those times.

    January 19, 2009 9:03 pm
  • 10
    maggie said:

    Yum. My parents have gone chanterelle hunting in Oregon and I hate how expensive they are here. So, so delicious. Perhaps I’ll head to Chelsea Market.

    January 20, 2009 10:39 am
  • 11
    Dianne said:

    I’m with you on the childhood mushroom picking! In fact, I still look for mushrooms….Every fall I love spying hen of the woods mushrooms growing at the base of oak trees. My dad tells me that back in New Castle, PA, where he grew up, a person would sooner die than reveal the site of his “mushroom” tree. It cracks me up when I see chefs on TV using “gourmet” hen of the woods, because for me it will always be the mushroom of choice for the relatively poor folks who foraged for them in Dad’s hometown.

    January 20, 2009 11:59 am
  • 12
    Kasey said:

    I know exactly what you mean! I, too, grew up picking mushrooms with my family on the outskirts of Moscow and my love for them just hasn’t gone away. Delicious recipe. I’m loving your blog–adding it to my blogroll!

    January 20, 2009 5:41 pm
  • 13
    jillian said:

    Cheap chanterelles sounds like a dream come true :)
    This looks delicious!

    January 20, 2009 7:36 pm
  • 14
    radish said:

    Maggie – are they cheaper in Oregon I wonder. Sadly, it’s not a mushroom you can dry and use effectively.
    Dianne – I don’t think I’ve ever had that mushroom – I’ll have to check it out.
    Kasey – aren’t those some lovely memories?

    January 21, 2009 10:22 am
  • 15
    EB said:

    How deceptively simple! It sounds utterly delicious. Also, I’m jealous of your mushroom and berry picking past (song or no).

    January 21, 2009 11:05 am
  • 16
    Robin said:

    What a nice childhood memory to have – certainly better than my beloved grilled-cheese-made-on-the-electric-radiator.
    And I don’t think chanterelles could ever be pedestrian… even if picked in the back yard. :)

    January 21, 2009 4:04 pm
  • 17
    Petitedov said:

    If you have access to Costco, they have quite reasonably priced chanterelles, we buy them every fall. Lower than other price I’ve seen.

    January 22, 2009 7:53 pm
  • 18
    Sophie said:

    MMMMMMMMM…..too bad for you about the cost of the mushrooms! Here in Brussels, Belgium they do cost a bit!! I eat them when they are in season & buy them at a tiny local mushroom seller!! I love your dish & I adore fresh sheep ricotta!!!

    March 16, 2009 2:37 pm
  • 19
    Barb said:

    My Czech parents, now living in Monteal, once “caught” some folks taking buckets-full of chanterelles from their country property (probably for commercial resale). They told my parents they would leave- but took the mushrooms with them!
    I picked mushrooms with my parents when I was a child, and now my son, who’s 5, goes mushroom picking with his grandma!

    August 10, 2009 3:21 pm
  • 20
    kirk said:

    I just picked 14 pounds today—I am looking forward to trying your recipe!

    September 12, 2009 11:27 pm
  • 21
    Gansen said:


    September 25, 2009 7:16 am
  • 22

    Thanks for this recipe, it sounds so delish….we’ll try it soon! The chanterelles are blooming here right now. Normally we just dry them and we use them in stews and soups. (they add so much flavor) It’s surprising to hear about the high prices….especially since they grow wild (and abundantly!) around here. And since most people don’t know what they are, they are ignored. we probably have somewhere between 50 and 100 pounds here each year. we only pick probably 5 to 10 pounds for our own use and leave the rest to grow and proliferate.

    ours here typically are in full bloom around July 4th.

    June 30, 2010 10:23 pm
  • 23
    Radish said:

    eightpondfarm – officially jealous of your chanterelle bounty! how lovely!! hope you enjoy them this year!

    July 1, 2010 6:19 am

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