By El Lower, Michigan Sea Grant GLANSIS research associate
Summer mushroom season is in full swing, and we were lucky enough to find some chanterelles on a recent hike! Chanterelles (Cantharellus spp.) are a family of mushrooms renowned for their beautiful golden color and rich flavor, and are a special treat to find growing wild.
Harvesting wild mushrooms can be nerve-wracking for beginners, since a number of species have inedible — or even toxic — relatives or look-alikes. MSU Extension’s bulletin “Don’t Pick Poison: When Gathering Mushrooms for Food in Michigan” is a great resource for anyone interested in learning how to avoid poisonous species. After carefully keying out our finds using a mycological field guide, we determined that this specific species is Cantharellus phasmatis, the ghost chanterelle — a Midwestern variant of the golden chanterelle that was first described in Wisconsin in 2013!
To highlight this special ingredient, I made a simple pasta with brown butter, locally-grown sweet corn, and chives! If you’re short on chanterelles, try this recipe with other wild or cultivated mushrooms, and adjust the rest of your ingredients to stay in proportion with the quantity of mushrooms you have available. Serve with a peppery arugula salad and a glass of white wine or iced tea for a taste of Great Lakes summer.
Summer Chanterelle Pasta
6 oz short pasta, such as rigatoni, cavatelli, or radiatore
4 tablespoons salted butter
6 oz chanterelles, halved, or other fresh wild or cultivated mushrooms
1 cob of sweet corn, kernels reserved
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
½ small lemon, zest and juice reserved
Chives, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste
- Generously salt a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, but reserve half a cup of pasta water for the sauce.
- While pasta is cooking, melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter foams up and begins to smell nutty, about 3 minutes.
- Add minced garlic, then chanterelles, and cook for 5 minutes until mushrooms are lightly browned and tender. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the corn kernels and cook for an additional minute.
- Add pasta to the skillet, along with a splash of the reserved pasta cooking water to bring the butter sauce together. Stir everything together, then add chives, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, then serve.