Amanita caesarea, commonly known in English as Caesar's mushroom, is a highly regarded edible mushroom in the genus Amanita, native to southern Europe and North Africa. This mushroom was first described byGiovanni Antonio Scopoli in 1772. This mushroom was a favorite of early rulers of the Roman Empire.
It has a distinctive orange cap, yellow gills and stipe. Organic acids have been isolated from this species. Similar orange-capped species occur in North America and India. It was known to and valued by the Ancient Romans, who called it Boletus, a name now applied to a very different type of fungus.
Caesar’s mushrooms have a deep orange coloured cap. The bottom of the cap is lined with yellow gills.. When they are young, the Caesar mushroom resembles an egg thus earning it the nickname “ovoli” in Italian. The flavor and fragrance are similar to hazelnuts or chestnuts, These European mushrooms will continue to develop after harvested and they should be eaten soon after purchase.
Ovoli e nepitella pappardelle
200 gr semolina di grano duro (Durum wheat flour)
100 gr of lukewarm water
4 medium ovoli or Caesar’s mushrooms
handful of fresh calamint
1 whole clove of garlic
a dash of dry white wine
knob of butter
Coarse sea salt
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
handful of grated Pecorino cheese
1. First prepare the pasta dough: mix the ingredients together little by little or until you get a nice soft dough, which is neither sticky nor crumbly (this all depends on the humidity, the flour, the water, etc so go bit by bit at first). Knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough is elastic. It’s important to use warm water otherwise the starch will not dissolve properly and you won’t get a nice elastic pasta. Let the dough rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
2. Then, cut the pasta into two portions, and on a surface dusted with flour, roll out each portion into a thin sheet, no more than 2mm thick. Dust the pasta with flour, fold the pasta sheet several times over itself (dusting each fold with flour so it doesn’t stick) and cut with a sharp knife into strips about 3cm wide to make long, flat pappardelle. Set aside while you put a large pot of water to boil.
3. In the meantime, prepare the mushrooms by cleaning them gently with a damp cloth; slice thinly. Sauté the mushroom slices with the whole garlic clove, a knob of butter and a dribble of olive oil. After a couple of minutes, add a dash of white wine and let the alcohol evaporate. Turn off the heat, throw in a handful of fresh calamint leaves (if you can’t find this herb, you can use fresh flat leaf parsley or mint or a mixture of both) and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. Add a generous pinch of salt to the boiling water and the pasta. It will only take 2-4 minutes to cook, depending on how thick you rolled out the pasta. Taste it to be sure!
5. Drain the pasta (saving a little bit of the water) and toss the pappardelle with the mushrooms. If it is a bit dry, add the reserved pasta water. Serve immediately with some shaved Pecorino cheese.
Yield: 2 servings.
Recipe courtesy of Emiko Davies