Simple Mushroom Saute and Rustic Pasta

Our Farmer’s Market in Boulder opened this past weekend.  For a Locavore it always feels like ‘we made it’, to know the winter months will give way to new growth and produce of spring.  Despite our seasonal beginnings being meager varieties of greens, the ambiance at the Market was joyous and uplifting.  Greeted by historical record high temps in the 70’s people came out of their dens after long winter months to celebrate the prospect for the upcoming growing season.
After a warm breakfast of an Egg and Chorizo Pupusa at Tres Pupusa (a pupusa is a stuffed South American ‘pancake’ for lack of a better description though it has a consistency of cornmeal and is savory) and admiring the breakfast of my friend Ellie, a weekly Farmer’s Market shopper, (Pot Stickers) I set out, fresh free-trade coffee in hand, for some ‘new’ food.
Cure Organic Farm, my summer CSA farm for the past 5 years, is always a first stop.  I purchased a pound of spinach, arugula and hickory smoked bacon from pigs they raise.  Arugula is my all time favorite green and the one food, were I to have to choose only one, I’d have on a deserted island if stranded.
Picked up some Applewood Smoked Goat Chevre cheese from Haystack Mountain, a local purveyor of a variety of goat cheeses, all gorgeous.
Could not think of a better kick off to spring than a mixed pound of organic mushrooms from Hazel Dell mushrooms.  They are located north of Ft. Collins and a staple at the Boulder Farmer’s market, as well as a number of local grocery stores and restaurants.  Truth be told, I hated mushrooms growing up.  It really was not until the more recent years that I branched out past taste-free button mushrooms and all thanks to Hazel Dell.
I have begun to chat with Chad, the Sales manager and Hazel Dell Farmer’s Market designee, who is all knowledgeable and a bit of a mushroom wizard in my book.  Of course I know Portabella mushrooms, the large meaty taste and textured ‘shroom made popular by California cuisine over the last decade.  Shitake; yes.  Chanterelle; yes.  Cinnamon Cap……huh?  Lion’s Mane?  Oyster?  I ambled into totally new territory.
Cinnamon Cap mushrooms
In a blind taste test there would be no way, other than a portabella, I could identify mushrooms by taste.  I’m not there yet.  But I have Chad.  Weekly in the summer into the fall, I can describe to Chad what I’m making and he whips up a special bag for the occasion, kind of like going to an herbalist; a bit of this and a smidge of that.  He knows exactly the mix for any purpose or dish.
For this first spring foray I wanted a simple mix to sauté.   I walked away with a pound of small portabellas, shitake, some cinnamon cap and lion’s mane.  It made for a visually diverse and delicious meshing of flavors and textures.
I got a tip from Chad the first time I sautéed Hazel Dell mushrooms which I now follow religiously.  I sauté in a mixture of olive oil and butter.  It creates the perfect flavor to compliment the earthy taste of the mushrooms but not take them over!
·         1 pound of mixed mushrooms
·         2 tablespoons butter
·         2 tablespoons olive oil
1.       Wipe mushrooms (do not wash them).  I have a mushroom cleaning brush; I moisten the bristles and wipe any dirt from the mushrooms rather than submerging them in water which affects their cooking and texture.
2.      Slice into preferred pieces.  I wanted this to feel rustic so did larger slices.
3.      Heat a large skillet on medium high.  Melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Do not crowd the mushrooms; I split my sauté into two ½ pounds batches, combining them again at the end.
4.      Allow mushrooms to cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to caramelize.  Water will release from the mushrooms while you are cooking.  Continue to stir, until the released liquid evaporates.  They will be coated, glossy but still have structure.
5.      Repeat for the second half of the pound of mushrooms using the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil.  The mushrooms will absorb the fat and not be greasy.
6.      When the second ½ pound is done, add the first half to sauté together.  Total cooking time around 10 minutes.
This pasta straddles my winter stores and new spring finds!  It’s very simple but delicious, with rich flavors and easy preparation.
·         1 pound pork Italian sausage
·         1 quart (32  ounces) tomato sauce
·         5 medium Cippolini onions or 1 large regular yellow onion
·         Olive oil
·         Salt and Pepper
·         1 package of fettuccini
I specifically used a pound of pork Italian sausage from Cure Organic farm that is rich and flavorful.  I used a jar of tomato Passato (a thick home canned pure tomato sauce reduced a bit to thicken) I’d canned last August.  Cippolini onions are not the easiest to find but I have a stash from my winter CSA with Grant Family Farm.  They look like someone flattened a round onion and are great grilled.  I used Tinkyada Brown Rice Fettuccini which is gluten free.  I have found Tinkyada to really hold its structure and have a good flavor.
1.       Brown the sausage in a skillet or sauce pan.  Add the tomato sauce, stir to combine and lower heat to low to simmer.
2.      Slice onions into ¼ inch slices.  Heat a grill to medium (300 degrees).  Brush each side of onion with olive oil.  Salt and pepper for taste.
Cippolini onions, pronounced ‘chip-o-leenee’, look like little disks
3.      Grill until grill marks are present and onions have begun to soften (about 3 minutes on each side depending on the heat of your grill).  Remove from grill and add to simmering tomato/sausage sauce.
4.      While sauce is simmering, heat water for the pasta and prepare pasta. When pasta is done, drain and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil to prevent sticking.  Stir in the sauce.  Plate, add a desired portion of mushrooms on top and enjoy!
Serves: 6-8 depending on portion size


  1. says

    I love pasta dishes, and your mushrooms look heavenly! I am so jealous your farm market is open already, I weeks to go before ours opens. it sounds like you had a very nice breakfast with the pupusa, and I always drink free trade/shade grown/organic, even at school!

  2. says

    Your pictures have me really missing Boulder right now! A few CSA's back we had a farmer that new a mushroom farmer and so we'd get a variety of mushies in our weekly bag. I think the Lion's manes are so much fun. Your dish is the perfect way to show off all the flavors of the different mushrooms- really lovely. I'm with you- Arugula is my absolute fave! Have a great week and enjoy that market. 3 more weeks for us!

  3. says

    I can't wait for those white tents to go up and our market to open. Ahhh, the recipes possibilities have me chomping at the bit. Your pasta looks just delicious.

  4. says

    I think we have a couple more weeks till our famrmers market opens here in Fort Collins 🙁 I love hazel dell mushrooms. I have admired the lion's mane ones but have not tried them 🙂 The pasta looks great. I will have to try it.

  5. says

    I love mushrooms I can make this even easier for me…skip the sausage! I need to get to the farmer's market too but the one in Cherry Creek has become more about chi chi stuff and less about great produce. Hmm, might have to give Boulder a whirl huh?

  6. says

    It may be simple, but it looks spectacular! It's so great that you've gotten to know all of your local growers & producers…food tastes so much better when you know where it came from. Theresa

  7. says

    What wonderful tips on cooking mushrooms…I need a mushroom brush! And such a gorgeous pasta dish…my hubby would pick out the mushrooms, but I'm happy to eat his little pile 🙂

  8. says

    Your meal as well as your post is lovely. I particularly enjoyed the very well captured photos ;o)

    I can't wait for our Montreal Farmer's market to open up their stalls…really looking forward to fresh, homegrown goodies.

    Flavourful wishes,

  9. Lin Ann says

    Simple and rustic always sounds like the start of a great recipe to me! Looking forward to visiting our farmers' markets which are starting to bring in more goodies now

  10. Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels says

    Your photos are absolutely gorgeous! My mama would just love this pasta dish. Thanks for the recipe. 🙂

  11. says

    Comfort food. That's what this dish says to me. I love anything with pasta and mushrooms. I'm so envious of your wide selection of mushrooms and of Chad. I wish, I wish. I can live vicariously through you though. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  12. says

    this looks perfect. and seasonal. and lovely. and yes…I need to make it! We, like you, just had our markets open back up and it feels so wonderful. thanks for sharing!

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