There are all sorts of mushroom sauces, some of which have made their appearance on this blog: the mushroom and tomato sauce, for example, that goes so well with dried pasta, or the mushroom cream sauce for gnocchi or even ox tongue. None of these are very hard to make, but this mushroom sauce may be the simplest mushroom sauce of all: just begin with a simple garlic soffritto, then add sliced mushrooms and sauté, seasoning with salt and pepper, until they have rendered their juices and softened. Turn off the heat and add chopped parsley—while there is still ample mushroom liquid in the skillet.
Meanwhile, boil your strozzapreti (or other pasta of your choice) in abundant, well-salted water until al dente. Add to the mushrooms and mix well, allowing the pasta to absorb the mushroom juice. Serve immediately. No need for grated cheese.
As always, a good rule of thumb is to use equal amounts (by dry weight) of mushrooms and pasta. Use enough olive oil to cover the skillet nicely. The other ingredients—garlic, salt, pepper and parsley—are all to taste.
NOTES: Any mushroom will work for this dish, including plain button mushrooms, but, of course, wild mushrooms will provide a much more interesting flavor. Porcini or chanterelles (pictured) are particular nice choices. If you are working with button mushrooms, you can give the dish more character by adding dried porcini as described in the post on penne ai funghi. And if your mushrooms, for whatever reason, do not give off any juice, you can add a bit of broth.The choice of pasta is pretty open. Egg pasta like fettuccine or tagliatelle would also go nicely with this dish, as would spaghetti or a stubby pasta like penne or, as pictured here, strozzapreti. The name of this pasta means ‘priest strangler’ and resemble elongated cavatelli. The name is also used to describe a few others dishes as well. (See this article for details.)
In addition to, or instead of, parsley, if you have access to it, the herb called nepitella gives the dish a nice flavor. (See penne ai funghi for a bit more background on nepitella.)
The sauce for this dish can actually serve as a side dish if you continue cooking the mushrooms until their juices have been absorbed and the mushrooms begin to sizzle and brown. It is usually called funghi trifolati, of ‘truffled mushrooms’ because thinly sliced mushrooms made this way are said to resemble truffle shavings.