Rigatoni is my favourite pasta shape. Its chunkiness appeals to me and I find that it holds a thick sauce better than many other pastas. It's particularly good when paired with a cream sauce such as this one. This recipe is almost as quick and simple as a pasta dish could be – sauteed chestnut or button mushrooms in a cream sauce with some spinach leaves thrown in at the end. And a generous grating of parmesan cheese, of course.
This time, however, I've enhanced the recipe with some of my homemade powdered chanterelles to give a boost of savouriness. This is optional, and you'll still get a tasty result without it, but it's absolutely worth it if you can find time time to dehydrate and grind some mushrooms to a powder – ideally a wild variety such as chanterelles (girolles) or ceps, or if that's not possible then shop-bought chestnut or button mushrooms will suffice to produce a tasty powder. Check out my mushroom powder recipe for details.
- 180 g dried rigatoni pasta
- 300 g chestnut musrooms (or button)
- 1 tsp mushroom powder (optional)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, chopped or sliced
- 150 ml double cream
- 40 g unsalted butter
- 40 g parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1 large handful baby spinach
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- table salt, for the pasta water
- extra virgin olive oil, for frying
Halve or quarter the mushrooms into roughly the same sized pieces and set aside. Place a wide, heavy-based pan over a high heat and once it's hot, add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot (in about 30 seconds or so) add the mushrooms and a two-finger-and-thumb pinch of sea salt. Fry for 5 minutes, stirring only a couple of times, until the mushrooms are nicely browned. Add the butter and stir the mushrooms until the butter has turned slightly brown and gives off a nutty aroma. Turn the heat to low and add the garlic. Fry gently for 2 minutes, then add most of mushroom powder (reserving some for garnishing at the end) and continue to fry gently for 2 - 3 minutes. Now add the cream and turn the heat to medium. Bring to the boil and simmer until you have a thick sauce consistency.
While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pan of water to the boil and add a generous three-finger-and-thumb pinch of table salt. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add the rigatoni and cook until al dente according to the packet's instructions (usually 10 or 11 minutes).
When the mushroom sauce is nice and thick, add the spinach and stir until wilted. Drain the rigatoni in a colander, reserving some of the starchy water. Add the rigatoni to the creamy sauce with a spoonful or two of the pasta water and most of the grated parmesan (leaving some for sprinkling on top at the end). Mix until you've got a nice smooth sauce, adding a splash more starchy water if it's too thick. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve with the remaining mushroom powder, grated parmesan and a sprinkle of cracked black pepper.