Friday, October 12, 2018

Pasta with Irish Mushrooms

So I’m bogged down in the middle of multiple deadlines (finish the draft of this, edit this, and while you’re at it, update your website and revise your bookmarks, and what about that novella you promised?) and I come up for air and realize that I haven’t been grocery shopping for a while and there’s nothing in the refrigerator. (Don’t worry—I order food for the cats online, so they’re not going to starve.)

Actually I’ve always enjoyed challenging myself: what can I make with whatever I’ve got on hand? No cheating and running out to pick up a couple of missing ingredients. And no ordering a pizza or getting takeout! 

And then I remembered . . . I bought a bag of dried mushrooms when I was in Ireland. Actually it’s labelled as a soup mix, but it’s really just the mushrooms, raised in Limerick somewhere, by a small and relatively new company.

I should note that exotic ingredients have been creeping into Irish markets for a while now. Last year I found dried seaweed (which I shared a recipe for here), and I bought another variety on my most recent trip. This time it was mushrooms. Check out the website. I’m going to have to hunt them down! 

Now, what to do with them? But I always have spaghetti in the pantry, and a can of chopped tomatoes, and olive oil and onions and garlic, and some fresh herbs, so I put them all together. Quick and easy!


1 package Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 can diced tomatoes in liquid
1 Tblsp tomato paste
fresh herbs, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 package spaghetti


Place the mushrooms (these are a mix of varieties) into a small bowl and cover with hot water to soften. Let them soak at least 20 minutes (longer won’t hurt, and you can use the water you soaked them in to flavor your sauce).

Slice your onions thinly, and reduce your garlic to small pieces (frankly I’m too lazy to mince the cloves, and I have a great garlic press).

Place a small amount of olive oil in a saute pan and place the pan over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic until they are soft but not brown. Add the diced tomatoes and their liquid to the pan (and the mushroom liquid if you want) and one tablespoon tomato paste.  Add the now soft mushrooms and the herbs and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning.

While your sauce is simmering, boil water for your pasta and follow the instructions on the box for how al dente you want yours. Drain and sprinkle with a bit of olive oil (to keep the spaghetti from sticking to itself, especially if you’re lucky enough to have some left over).

Transfer a serving size portion of spaghetti into a large flat bowl and spoon the sauce over the pasta. Serve hot! (Although the leftovers were pretty good too.)

This amount of ingredients made enough for 3-4 servings. See? Quick and easy, and you can toss in whatever is lurking in your fridge for variety.

Nipped in the Bud, the new Orchard Mystery, has a launch date: October 29th! (Assuming I finish the copy edits and write the jacket copy . . .) 

Meg Corey Chapin and new husband Seth Chapin are waiting eagerly for spring so they can get back to work, but they didn't count on finding a body in the back yard.

Watch for updates!


  1. I tried to preorder. I couldn’t find it on Amazon.

    1. Don't worry--we're still polishing it. Fingers crossed it will be up for pr-order by next week. Thanks for looking!

  2. Thank you for the recipe! Glad the new book is out soon.

  3. So excited about the new book. I love this series.

  4. Necessity is the mother of invention.
    Some question/comments--
    What was the weight of the mushroom package?
    Strain the left over liquid from them to remove silt/dirt.
    !/2 package of spaghetti--remember when pasta packages were uniformly 16 oz/1 pound? Now they are more likely to be 12 oz.
    Shrinking packages, like ice cream "quarts".

    1. 20 grams, dry weight (gee, I just happen to have the package sitting on my desk). And the mushrooms were remarkably clean--I was expecting some grit and looked on the package for instructions about getting rid of it, but there was nothing. It does say on the package that they use both their own farm-grown mushrooms and "seasonal foraged wild mushrooms." I'd love to see their operation--I've visited Kennett Square in Pennsylvania, and some place I can't remember in France, to see how they're grown.

    2. Thanks.
      Clean mushrooms. Is that an oxymoron?

  5. So glad there will be a new release in your ORCHARD mystery series. This series was my introduction to your writing when your first book came out. Hope things go smoothly for the expected release date. Thank you for your recipe.

    Cynthia B