Poplar Fieldcaps with Spelt Spaghetti, Ricotta and Walnuts
Poplar fieldcaps have a rich savouriness that some say is almost like bacon. In Italy, where the mushrooms are known as pioppino, they’re used in the simplest of pastas and risottos to showcase their flavour. Here we use nutty wholegrain spelt pasta – which you’ll find in larger supermarkets and health food shops – and a light sauce of ricotta, walnuts, lemon and parsley, for a tasty yet wholesome supper for two.
- About 300g poplar fieldcaps
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 30g shelled walnut pieces
- 20g unsalted butter
- 200g wholegrain spelt spaghetti
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
- 125g ricotta
- Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra to serve
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil.
- Cut through the stems of the poplar fieldcaps above the woody bases of the clusters and separate them. Clean them carefully, and trim away any stems that feel dry and woody. Cut the mushrooms into large nuggets, leaving the smaller ones whole.
- Set a large frying pan over a lowish heat and add the oil. Add the walnut pieces and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden and aromatic. Using a slotted spoon, remove the nuts from the pan and set them aside.
- Add the butter to the oil that remains in the pan and when it has melted, add the prepared mushrooms. Toss them around to coat them with the butter, then raise the heat to high and fry the mushrooms for about 4 minutes, until patched golden brown. Don’t stir them too frequently, to allow them to take on some colour.
- When the water is boiling, add the pasta, followed by 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the water back to the boil and cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the pack (about 8 minutes).
- Meanwile, reduce the heat under the mushrooms and add the garlic. Cook gently while the pasta is cooking.
- Finely chop the walnuts. Put half of them in large serving bowl with the ricotta, lemon zest, half the parsley and the parmesan. Skim off a small cupful of pasta cooking water and stir it into the ricotta to make a light cream.
- Taste the mushrooms and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice and stir well, and leave the pan over a very gentle heat to keep the mushrooms warm.
- When the pasta is al dente, skim off another cupful of its water, then drain the spaghetti. Put the pasta into the serving bowl with the ricotta mixture and toss well. Add some of the reserved pasta water as necessary to give the sauce a light, flowing coating consistency.
- Add the mushrooms and toss well. Top with the remaining walnuts and parsley and serve, with extra parmesan to sprinkle over.
Recipe and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK