Summer and early Fall
Caesar’s mushroom (or Amanita Caesarea) is a true delicacy, especially when eaten very young. And raw. Since the young ones have the shape of an egg, they are called ovoli in Italian. However, it’s not recommended to pick these young ones yourself, unless you’re an expert. The young Caesar’s mushroom looks very similar to young Fly Agaric, Death Cap and Destroying Angels. Ones we would not like to see on (y)our plate. The mature Caesar’s mushroom looks very distinct from these very dangerous mushrooms, so fewer risks involved.
The classic recipe for ovoli is to include them in a salad, with shaved white truffle. So raw, which makes it just a touch more dangerous.
When you’re in North America, you will probably be able to buy Amanita Jacksonii or Amanita Arkansana, which seem to be very similar, but not completely. As far as we know eating cooked Amanita Caesarea and Arkansana is not a problem; eating them raw could be.
In this recipe we combine the delicate flavour of the Caesar’s mushroom with thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, a touch of garlic, Parmesan cheese and olive oil. Ideally served with pappardelle because the paste will be nicely coated with the cooking juices, but feel free to use good spaghetti as an alternative (like we did).
We enjoyed our Caesar’s mushrooms with a glass of pinot noir. This wine will have earthly tones and these connect very nicely to the earthy taste of the mushroom. Not too much acidity, because that doesn’t go well with the touch of bitterness of the fresh bay leaf. The pinot noir should also be relatively light, allowing for herbal and floral tones.
Here is what you need:
- 200 grams of Caesar’s mushroom
- Olive Oil
- Fresh Bay Leaf
- Parmesan cheese
Clean the Caesar’s mushrooms by removing the dirt and the white veil (or volva). Start by making flavoured olive oil by warming the olive oil in a large skillet and adding the herbs and the garlic. Not too hot, you only want the flavours and essential oils to be added to the olive oil. Remove the herbs and garlic after 10 minutes or so. Squeeze the herbs gently, making sure you capture the flavours as much as possible. Now gently fry the sliced Caesar’s mushroom. Just cooked is perfect. In parallel cook your pasta. When al dente, drain the pasta but keep some of the cooking liquid. If there is too much starch on the pasta, then forget about Italy, think Japan and wash your pasta with water. This will remove the starch and allow for a better result. Remove the Caesar’s mushrooms from the pan and keep warm. Add the pasta to the pan, stir and make sure the pasta is fully coated. Add a spoonful or two of the cooking liquid to the pan. Add some grated Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Stir. Transfer the pasta to a warm plate and put the Caesar’s mushroom on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and black pepper.