By Laura Ratliff and Ryan Smith | February 1, 2012

By: Laura Ratliff and Ryan Smith

One of the great things about living in a city like New York is the sheer variety of cooking ingredients available. I can’t recall how many times I’ve purchased something at the market just because it sounded “interesting,” even if I didn’t have a clue what it was or what to do with it.

This week, I was delighted when I came across hedgehog mushrooms, a small mushroom that resembles a chanterelle. Hedgehog mushrooms are named appropriately; instead of gills on the underside of their cap, they have little “teeth” reminiscent of a hedgehog’s spikes. (They’re also sometimes called “belly-button mushrooms,” because of a slight depression in the cap.)

Not wanting to overpower this mild mushroom’s flavor, I sauteed them in dry vermouth with a red onion and then tossed with pasta, arugula and chunks of fresh brie.

This is a versatile dish that I’ve made many times with all sorts of vegetables and mushrooms, even white button mushrooms, so if you try it, you can throw in whatever you have or whatever sounds appealing.

The reserved pasta water and the brie form a delicious light sauce that coats the pasta, making every bite cheesy and decadent. The mushrooms and onions add a bit of heft and I love the way the arugula just wilts ever so slightly, still retaining its crunch and successfully tricking me into thinking I’m eating something healthy.

As far as we’re concerned, a bad pasta meal doesn’t exist, but this one falls into the “excellent” category. I wouldn’t hesitate to serve piping hot bowls of this to dinner party guests this winter, alongside a glass of a bold red wine.

Penne With Brie, Mushrooms, and Arugula Recipe

Adapted from RealSimple.com

8 oz. penne pasta
1 tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. mushrooms (halved, if large)
1 small red onion, sliced
1/4 cup dry vermouth
Kosher salt and black pepper
8 oz. brie, rind removed and cut into 1″ pieces
2 cups baby arugula


  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the mushrooms and onion and cook, tossing occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to release their juices, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add the vermouth, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until the mushrooms begin to brown, 5 to 6 minutes.
  5. Toss the pasta with the brie and reserved cooking water until the pasta is coated. Stir in the mushroom mixture and arugula.

Photos by Laura Ratliff

Laura Ratliff and Ryan Smith are the authors of Smith & Ratliff, a New York City-based lifestyle blog. They write about food, cocktails, art, style and life in New York City. Follow them on Twitter: @smithratliff

For more amazing recipes from Laura and Ryan, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)


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