Genius Recipes

Nigella Lawson's Linguine with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme Mushrooms

By • August 14, 2013 • 28 Comments

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Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: A no-cook, company-worthy sauce that fits right into our laziest pasta-dressing habits.

Nigella Lawson's Linguine with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme Mushrooms from Food52

Boiling pasta is what we do when we don't know what to do -- it's in our muscle memory as cooks. But most of our go-to dressy pastas still demand attention. 

Carbonara expects us to maneuver eggs. Linguine con vongole: to dance with clams. Cacio e pepe: to swirl a molten sauce out of butter and dry cheese. And none of them, once maneuvered, is terribly willing to sit around and wait for dinner.

So aren't you pleased that this is a pasta that doesn't expect hand-eye coordination or time management? It's just as happy being served hot, warm, even cold. And all you have to do -- other than boiling pasta (you've got this) -- is put items in a bowl and stir.

In other words, it's what you serve when you want to throw a dinner party and come across as blithely, gloriously relaxed as Nigella Lawson always does. She says this is one of her proudest creations.

More: Another genius Nigella creation? Try her Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake.

But it's also a pasta that you can happily cook alone, and eat alone until you can't eat any more. Then pack up whatever's left -- for lunch, or tomorrow's dinner, or Saturday's picnic, or a cold midnight snack.  

This is how it will go -- you'll be eating linguine in 20:

Put a pot of water on to boil. Throw in a fistful of salt. Find a large, handsome serving bowl and start piling stuff in.

Slice mushrooms thinly. Pull thyme from its sprigs. (Nigella would like them to be "gorgeously scented" -- see what you can do about that.) Zest and juice a lemon. Mince a clove of garlic into tiny bits. Put it all in the bowl, and stir it together with salt and olive oil. 

Look askance at the stiff, pale mushroom slices floating in gorgeously scented dressing and press on. Your water is boiling now. Drop your linguine in, grate Parmesan, chop parsley.

By the time you turn back to the mushrooms, the salt has pulled out their bloat and they've drunk up the dressing. They've, essentially, cooked. They just don't know it. 

Most pasta recipes would have you reserve a cup of pasta water for some oft-unannounced purpose, but Nigella gets right to it -- she has you drain the pasta only loosely, hanging onto whatever salty, thick water clings to the noodles. 

Swish the noodles through your steeped mushroom concoction, add the parsley and cheese, and -- whenever you're ready -- start eating. 

Nigella Lawson's Linguine with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme Mushrooms from Food52

Nigella Lawson's Linguine with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme Mushrooms

Adapted from Nigella Express (Hyperion, 2007)

Serves 4 to 6

4 cups (8 ounces) finely sliced cremini or button mushrooms
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Maldon or kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
4 sprigs fresh thyme stripped to give 1 teaspoon leaves
1 pound linguine or other pasta shape
1 bunch fresh parsley, leaves chopped, to give 1/2 cup
2 to 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here. 

Photos by James Ransom

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thanks to Food52er Hippy in the Kitchen for this one!


Tags: genius recipes, nigella lawson, genius, pasta, mushrooms, thyme, no-cook

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Comments (28)


over 1 year ago kersti

If I don't like raw mushrooms generally (but love cooked mushrooms), will the process of making the sauce make them more like the "cooked mushroom" flavor I like, or should I just quickly saute them?


over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

They definitely lose their raw edge, through marinating in the sauce and even more so as the warm pasta hits them. You can saute if you like, but I think you'll like it if you give it a go as written.


over 1 year ago Smith & Ratliff

I made this the other night for a couple of friends and it was a hit. So easy! It's definitely going to be a regular staple.


over 1 year ago denise&food

Loved this recipe. It was so flavorful and was delicious the next day too.
Great meatless option.


over 1 year ago Rizan

Maybe I had an overly zesty lemon! But, mine far too lemony. Loved the recipe, did remove half the juice before adding the pasta. overall recipe is a keeper will half the juice next time.


over 1 year ago mainesoul

I followed the recipe and then added a bunch of chopped arugula. The arugula put it over the top for me. It was great.


over 1 year ago Peggio

Oh my gosh, all my favorites ... lemon, mushrooms, garlic, thyme ... sounds like the perfect summer night dinner! I am thinking this would work well camping; arrange the mushroom mixture ahead, cook the pasta over the campfire and serve a gourmet meal while everyone else is eating hot dogs.


over 1 year ago Buck

If you're concerned about the flavor density in the dish as other readers have, I suggest making this for no more than 4 people, unless you up the "sauce" ingredients. I served this for 3 of us last night and it was delicious. Not too lemony at all (and I had the mushrooms marinating in the lemon/oil/garlic/thyme for several hours). Throw in a few capers if you want additional zing.


over 1 year ago coolingwinds

What an awesome meatless Monday recipe! Thanks from a fellow Californian :~)


over 1 year ago Ginny

I was delicious. I added shredded zucchini as someone else suggested. Will be making this again for sure


over 1 year ago Ginny

Ops. I meant "it" was delicious.


over 1 year ago Carol Mathias

Had it here in Nebraska tonight with thyme from my garden. The night is so British and having this on our porch for supper made for a sensuous Thursday supper.


over 1 year ago Ginny

I just put the finishing touches on this fabulous recipe and can't wait to taste it (altho' I have nibbled a little bit of it). I am trying to eliminate dairy from my diet for a month and that's why I tried this recipe. I am sure I will love it even with no parmesan (maybe).


over 1 year ago dina.dunkelman

I think I'll be making this one for dinner tomorrow. Plus, with the recent news on Nigella and her S.O.B. abusive husband, I'll be proud to support this woman by getting her books.


over 1 year ago hrhsassypants

I had no idea till your comment! I agree, I'll also buy up her books!


over 1 year ago starvingfoodie

Mmm, some of my favorite flavors all in one. Lazy style. Purrrfect. A few vigorous shakes of crushed red pep, and we're in business. Smart find, Kristen!


over 1 year ago Deborah

I saw the recipe this morning - made it for dinner. Added smoked salmon. Fabulous!


over 1 year ago russelllewis

This looks awesome. I keep envisioning Little Neck clams in this, I will use the liquid from the clams instead of the water from the pasta.


over 1 year ago Sophisaurus

I just made this for dinner. Wow! What amazing flavors. A new pasta favorite. I followed the recipe exactly. It was a tad salty, so next time I'll use a "scant" tablespoon of Kosher salt on the mushrooms. Great recipe for when the thyme is overflowing out of the garden!


over 1 year ago katie

I'm making it tonight, for an outdoor Flamenco concert by the Hudson River. Please tell Nigella that Weehawken NJ sends its love!


over 1 year ago Julianna Uresch

Truffle oil and thin sliced black truffles would be very nice too.. (with a little bit less of the mushrooms maybe)


over 1 year ago Laurabcase

Does anyone know a veggie to substitute for the mushrooms?


over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Very thinly sliced summer squash could be great too.


over 1 year ago ed

grated zucchini works really well, so does rocket


over 1 year ago Nomnomnom

Your writing cracks me up. Keep it coming!


over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52