Black Trumpet Pasta
Relying on a few key ingredients, this delicious pasta dish combines casarecce pasta with sautéd black trumpets in a simple cream sauce. Topped with grated parmesan and sprinkling of parsley, it’s a dinner you won't forget!
Black Trumpets (Craterellus sp.)
Two of the common species that are considered to be black trumpets: Craterellus cornucopiodes (left) photographed in South Bohemia, Czech Republic and Craterellus fallax (right) photographed in Pennsylvania, USA.
There are a few species of fungi that are considered to be black trumpets, also known as black chanterelles, trompette de la mort, or trumpets of the dead. Two of the common species and the ones I am familiar with are Craterellus cornucopiodes, which grows in Europe, and Craterellus fallax, which grows in eastern North America. Despite their unappetizing appearance and names referencing death, these hard-to-find fungi are quite delicious.
Closely related chanterelles, both species form hollow, vase-shaped fruit bodies that are black and if growing among last year’s fallen leaves, they’re almost impossible to spot. In fact, when I found C. fallax for the first time, I was already sitting on top of them, photographing another mushroom! However, black trumpets can also grow in lush moss, like in the photo above, taking advantage of the moisture it provides. Both species appear in spring through fall, growing in clusters and dense groups in association with hardwoods, often in the same places where golden chanterelles grow.
C. cornucopiodes tends to form bigger fruit bodies (up to 10cm) with elaborate, ruffled edges, while C. fallax is more tubular at first, becoming deeply vase-shaped with a simpler, rolled edge. Both species have finely scaly, gray to black upper surfaces and smooth or very shallowly wrinkled outer surfaces. C. cornucopiodes outer surface is a lighter shade of grey, turning whitish to cream-colored sheen as the spores mature. The outer surface of C. fallax is initially blackish but develops yellowish to orangish shades as the spores mature.
Taste & Edibility
For the longest time, I was not impressed by these “supposedly one of the tastiest” wild mushrooms. The first time I ate them, I thought they tasted like rubber! This was because I didn’t cook them properly. Since they are hollow and quite flimsy, black trumpets cook fast compared to meatier mushrooms, and I think the first time I cooked them, I left them frying in the pan for too long. The second time I did some research and was rewarded with one of the tastiest mushrooms I've ever had! The trick is to make sure the mushroom has direct contact with fat in the pan or simmers in liquid.
Now I am convinced that black trumpets may be the most delicious of all wild mushrooms. They have a strong sweet, woodsy aroma and a soft yet chewy texture with a rich, nutty, and smoky taste. They are excellent fresh, but you can also dry them, which adds black truffle notes to their flavor. A dried black trumpet powder is a flavorful condiment for soups, risottos, and sauces.
Black Trumpet Pasta
Relying on a few key ingredients, this delicious pasta dish combines casarecce pasta with sautéd black trumpets in a simple cream sauce. Since the flavor of black trumpets can be easily overpowered, in addition to cream, this recipe only uses some shallots and a clove of garlic to enhance the flavor of the black trumpets, which are (and should be) the stars of this dish.
For the best taste, use good quality short pasta like cassarece or penne that can trap the sauce. Cassarece are short pasta noodles that look a lot like little rolled up scrolls—they have curled edges and a groove down the middle, which is perfect for trapping any delicious sauce you toss them with. They sort of mirror the shape of the black trumpets themselves, making it the perfect choice for this dish. Meaning “homemade,” casarecce is from Sicily, where it was originally made by rolling small rectangles of dough around a thin wooden pin or metal rod.
Top the dish with grated parmesan and a sprinkling of parsley. Serve right away as pastas that are gilded in silky sauces don’t do well resting on the counter!
Please be extremely careful cooking and eating foraged mushrooms. Never eat a mushroom that you are not 100% sure of its ID. The best way to learn how to identify and forage for edible mushrooms in your area is to join a local mushroom club or go with a trusted mushroom identifier or a mycologist. Then, even if you are 100% sure of its ID and know it's an edible mushroom, always try small quantities of a new mushroom first before eating a large batch to make sure it sits with you well.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Serving Size: 2
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp shallots (diced)
1 clove garlic (finely chopped or pressed)
5 oz black trumpet mushrooms (cleaned)
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 oz casarecce pasta
1/4 cup parmesan (grated)
flat-leaf parsley for garnish (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
Black trumpets cook fast—depending on the amount you have in the pan and moisture levels, the 5 oz of trumpets I had in a medium-sized pan cooked in about 7 minutes.
Clean the black trumpet mushrooms. Hopefully you have done some cleaning right in the woods—black trumpets are hollow and dirt can get trapped there. Cut off the ends and if needed, quickly rinse under running water and let dry on paper towels.
Boil a large pot of water for the pasta. When boiling, add salt.
Melt 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter in a large frying pan. When foamy, add shallots and garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, without letting it brown too much.
Add black trumpet mushrooms, stir and slowly sauté for about 7 minutes on medium heat.
Add caserecce pasta to the boiling pot of water and cook according to directions.
Add cream to the pan with the mushrooms and slowly bring to a simmer, allowing to reduce for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
When the pasta is ready, add it to the pan with the mushroom sauce and toss gently, coating the pasta.
Top with grated parmesan and sprinkling of parsley and serve immediately.
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