This is one of the easiest and most versatile vegetable dishes in the Italian repertoire: funghi trifolati, or ‘truffled’ mushooms, so called because the thinly sliced and sautéed mushrooms are said to resemble that other, more highly prized tuber. I use two methods to make funghi trifolati, and both are equally easy:
Using the traditional recipe (pictured above), you thinly slice your mushrooms, then sauté them over a lively flame in olive oil and a clove of garlic. (If you want a little heat, you can add a peperoncino or some red pepper flakes.) Sprinkle the mushroom slices with a pinch of salt right away—this will cause the mushroom to exude its juices. In just a few minutes, the juices will evaporate and you will begin to hear the mushrooms start to sizzle and lightly brown. Once that happens, add some finely chopped parsley and, if you like, freshly ground pepper, and serve.
I also like to use a more ‘refined’ variation: you sauté the mushroom slices in a mixture of olive oil and butter (omitting the garlic) and when you get to the sizzling stage, add finely chopped shallot and parsley. Sauté a minute or two further to cook the shallot and serve.
In Italy, the typical mushroom for this dish would be porcini. But I find these methods work with every kind of mushroom I’ve tried. Even the rather wan ‘button’ mushrooms seems to develop some lovely flavor when made this way. If using garlic, you can add it slightly crushed, chopped or still in its jacket, depending on the result you are looking for: chopping will give you the most assertive garlic flavor (but be careful to avoid burning the garlic); leaving the jacket, of course, produces the most subtle effect (just remember to remove the garlic before serving); personally, I like the ‘middle way’ of using a peeled and slightly crushed garlic clove (which, by the way, I don’t remove unless company is coming).
Some recipes call for covering the pan and braising the mushrooms in some liquid (eg, white wine) for 15 minutes or more after an initial sauté over gentle rather than lively heat, but I prefer the methods mentioned here. The mushrooms are perfectly tender after an initial sauté over high heat, and indeed tend to become mushy if you let them cook too long.
Funghi trifolati, in either version, makes for a great Fall or Winter contorno with just about any meat dish. It can also be added to stews, fricasées and sautés. (It’s particularly nice with sautéed chicken.)
With a little additional oil or butter, funghi trifolati make a wonderful sauce for pasta or gnocchi or even polenta, just by itself (see this post on strozzapreti ai funghi and the photo of linguine ai funghi above) or in combination with tomatoes (see this post on penne ai funghi) or, particularly in the ‘refined’ version, with the addition of broth and/or cream that you then reduce down to a nice saucy consistency (see this post on gnocchi ai funghi). The latter mushroom cream sauce is wonderful with meat also, as in this post on gratinéed ox tongue.
It’s really up to you—this dish is a starting point for all sorts of creativity in the kitchen.