There was a tremendous heatwave in Dolceacqua this summer–throughout most of Europe, in fact—so we sought shady respite from the angry sun at a family owned and operated osteria. Gorgeous freshly prepared rustic foods adorned the tables. Creels piled high with fresh, bulbous mushrooms awaited our order. I enjoyed the ravioli ai funghi, basking in a glimmer of olive oil—a perfect light choice for a hot day. It was love at first bite. I knew as soon as I returned home, I would have to duplicate the trifolati.
Trifolati. The word dances from your lips. Beautiful to say, but what exactly is trifolati?
According to Saveur.com, trifolati is
“a sauce made by searing then gently confiting mushrooms in a bath of olive oil—is best when made using a robust extra virgin olive oil and a mix of wild mushrooms like oyster, crimini, and chanterelles. The mushrooms turn silky and tender while releasing their rich, umami flavor into the oily sauce.”
Gently confiting mushrooms? Seriously? Who writes like that? (I love it.)
Confit in this recipe—cooking these mushrooms in olive oil—is more metaphorical than accurate. I’m okay with that. I love clever play on words.
But is it important to use all these fancy mushrooms? And what exactly are cremini mushrooms? What are oyster mushrooms? What are morels and chanterelles?
Don’t panic if you can’t find all of these at your market. You can actually pick which ones to incorporate depending on the flavor outcome you desire. But know this: each mushroom contributes her own voice to the concert’s harmony. Variety is good.
Here’s a brief mushroom tutorial.
- If you can’t find cremini mushrooms, the substitution is easy. They go by the alias of baby bellas. Creminis are more mature than white mushrooms but younger than portobellos. The difference in age equates to a difference in flavor and texture. They hold up well in liquid, which is why they enjoy being gently confited in a bath of olive oil. It’s like a spa day for them.
- While you may be able to substitute white or portobello mushrooms for cremini, there is no substitute for chanterelles. I am borrowing the description from specialtyproduce.com because it is so eloquent: “Chanterelles are dense and meaty, edible, wild mushrooms ranging in color from orange to gold. They have wavy, fleshy caps with ruffled false gills that flare upward along the stem forming an abstract tulip. Their flavor is nutty, with an aroma of apricots or peaches.”
- Add another dimension of flavor with the beautiful shell-shaped oyster mushrooms. You will find hints of sweet anise, depending on their maturity.
- Shiitake mushrooms, when fresh, are meaty with a buttery flavor. When dried, their concentrated form is smoky.
- Less umami than shiitakes is the more expensive porcini. Porcinis bring a distinctive mushroom flavor to dishes.
- Morels have a meaty texture and a unique nutty flavour. Butter enhances their earthiness.
Wide planks of Parmigiano-Reggiano provide an essential saltiness to this dish, smiting the umami with a savory essence. Be sure to layer thin slabs of this cheese across the top before serving. But DO NOT—I repeat, DO NOT—buy it preshaved. It will be too waxy.
I recommend you use a substantial pasta. One with ruffles will be lovely, such as Mafaldine or Riccia. Mafaldine, or Reginette, is ribbon-shaped with wavy edges on both sides. Riccia, which means “curly” in Italian, resembles thin lasagna with ruffled edges.
This is another one of those fabulous recipes where the palette is yours for the taking. Follow it as directed, or add any of these to customize it to your liking: use cream in place of some of the butter; add browned chunks of pancetta (saute the onions in this!); garnish with herbs such as thyme; toss in some chopped kale; substitute risotto for pasta.
Pair this with effervescent bubbles with enough body to complement the richness of this dish.
If you try this recipe–or any variations–I’d love to hear about it or see photos! Tag #nakedepicurean.com on Instagram.
Pasta with Wild Funghi Trifolati (for 4)
- 1 pound fresh mushrooms (chanterelles, oyster, crimini), cleaned and sliced or torn
- 1 ounce dried mushrooms (shiitake, porcini, morels)
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1-2 shallots, finely diced
- 1-2 minced garlic cloves
- ½ cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
- 1 pound fresh wide noodles
- ½ cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup (or more) Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved into wide ribbons
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.
- In a small pan, bring wine to a boil. Add dried mushrooms. Remove from the heat. Allow mushrooms to soak until tender, 5 to 15 minutes. Remove mushrooms from wine with a slotted spoon. Reserve mushroom liqueur.
- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil.
- Cook the pasta according to directions, or al dente. Drain and cover to keep warm.
- Add shallots and garlic and cook until shallots start to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in reconstituted and fresh mushrooms, cooking until golden and tender, about 15 minutes. Add reserved wine to the pan. Gently simmer over low heat until reduced.
- Add pasta to the mushroom mixture and toss gently to combine.
- Stir in parsley and season with freshly ground S&P.
- Garnish generously with ribbons of Parmigiano-Reggiano and drizzle with EVOO, if desired.