Editors' Picks

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

August 14, 2013

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

Shop the Story

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!


Listen & Subscribe

From our new podcast network, The Genius Recipe Tapes is lifelong Genius hunter Kristen Miglore’s 10-year-strong column in audio form, featuring all the uncut gems from the weekly column and video series. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts so you don’t miss out.

Listen & Subscribe

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lisa Grenier
    Lisa Grenier
  • Diane Novak
    Diane Novak
  • Marghet
  • kersti
  • Smith & Ratliff
    Smith & Ratliff
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Lisa G. September 25, 2016
What are button mushrooms? I'm thinking I would try this with baby Bella's or just regular mushrooms.....
D October 12, 2016
button mushrooms are the regular white kind; baby bella = cremini which are immature portobello
Diane N. August 28, 2016
Trying it tonight - stay tuned!
Marghet August 27, 2016
Simple and delicious. Big hit, couldn't stop eating it. Like most people, I sauteed the mushrooms in the butter to avoid any complaints about the texture of raw mushrooms. However, if I do that again I recommend reducing the amount of olive oil you put into the dish since it was a little too greasy with the butter clinging to the mushrooms plus the olive oil.
kersti December 9, 2013
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?
Kristen M. December 13, 2013
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.
Smith &. November 1, 2013
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.
denise&food September 2, 2013
Loved this recipe. It was so flavorful and was delicious the next day too.
Great meatless option.
Ann22 August 26, 2013
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.
mainesoul August 22, 2013
I followed the recipe and then added a bunch of chopped arugula. The arugula put it over the top for me. It was great.
Peggio August 19, 2013
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.
Buck August 18, 2013
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.
coolingwinds August 16, 2013
What an awesome meatless Monday recipe! Thanks from a fellow Californian :~)
Ginny August 16, 2013
I was delicious. I added shredded zucchini as someone else suggested. Will be making this again for sure
Ginny August 16, 2013
Ops. I meant "it" was delicious.
Carol M. August 15, 2013
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.
Ginny August 15, 2013
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).
dina.dunkelman August 15, 2013
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.
hrhsassypants August 17, 2013
I had no idea till your comment! I agree, I'll also buy up her books!
starvingfoodist August 15, 2013
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!
Deborah August 14, 2013
I saw the recipe this morning - made it for dinner. Added smoked salmon. Fabulous!
russelllewis August 14, 2013
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.
Sophie August 14, 2013
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!
katie August 14, 2013
I'm making it tonight, for an outdoor Flamenco concert by the Hudson River. Please tell Nigella that Weehawken NJ sends its love!