Penne with Chanterelle and Cep Sauce

Serves: 4
Cost: ~€3.50
Preparation time: ~25 minutes
Calories: ~725 per serving

Greetings everyone. Do you know what today is? Well, it’s the 25th of May for one thing, so “Happy Birthday” to my dear mother! Aside from that though… well, it’s friday of course, which can only mean one thing… weekend! A long weekend in fact for me. I have Monday off as someone is coming over to repair the refrigerator door. I have sufficiently recovered from the culinary mess that was last weekend and I’m gearing up for the coming days and looking to the future. As of this moment, I don’t actually know quite what I’ll be making on the weekend. I’ve got a few ideas – some healthy, some not so much, so I guess we’ll see what wins through on that front and you’ll be able to see for yourselves on Monday!

I’ve got some news as well – back last november, when I was celebrating my blog’s 1-year anniversary, I remember asking myself what more could I do? I think a desire to adapt is very important, especially with blogging where you can easily risk feeling burned out from taking it too seriously – it’s supposed to be fun after all! I started last year by publishing photos of my adventures. Being able to speak about things I see and do, sharing my other interests, while still keeping the blog centred primarily around food brought me a great deal of pleasure. In addition to that, I’ve now decided to do two new things on my blog here:

Firstly, every month I see awesome things – I read a lot of food blogs in my spare time and I see wonderful recipes. I feel like I want to share them with people I know. Sure, I could just “Pin” them on Pinterest, but where’s the fun in that? Nope, I’m going be keeping an eye out for delectable little morsels which fit the general theme of my site – food for under €5 – and once a month I’m going to pick out a handful of these and write a little bit about just why I think they’re so great and why you really should have made them already!

Secondly, we’re probably all here because we love food, right? And what do so many food lovers adore? Well, I don’t think I’m alone in loving recipe books – they’re bedtime reading for me. For the longest time I had 3 cookery books and a book on food styling and photography on my bed-side table. I’ve got some wonderful recipe books, chock full of all sorts of beautiful dishes – healthy, gut-busting, frugal, extravagant, homely, exotic – I figured it might be nice to share my bookshelf with you a bit too, so I’m going to be writing about a recipe book once a month as well.

I have another change as well, but I’m keeping that under wraps for now – all in good time my dears, all in good time!

Penne with Chanterelle and Cep Sauce

On to today’s recipe though! Do you remember my rain-soaked canal trip a few weeks ago? Well, shortly before boarding the boat I told you all that we had a rather satisfying lunch in a boat-shaped restaurant next to the canal. It was actually one of the best simple pasta dishes I’ve had in my life. Fast and simple to prepare, filling and packed with flavour – absolutely delicious! The dish was penne with cep sauce and let me tell you, there weren’t any leftovers on my plate that day! I had to fend my wife off, who, having ordered a seafood pasta dish took one bite of mine and immediately regretted her order. That’s not to say her lunch wasn’t nice too… it was great, but this one was just that good!

I’ve been trying to reproduce this (you’d think it would be easy since it’s so few ingredients… apparently it’s not!) at home, and while I can get “approximations” I can’t quite get it spot on. This is my closest effort so far, and actually, with the olive oil drizzled on top, the grated parmesan and the basil chiffonade it’s actually got a whole faintly pesto-like thing going on which is a delicious backing to the fantastic mushroom flavour so I really recommend giving this a try!

Oh, incidentally – one of the reasons I love writing up these posts is because it forces me to find the “English” name for things. You may think this sounds strange, but many names in French cannot quickly be translated to English; well, I have difficulties with it at least! My main source is Wikipedia – the problem with things like fish and mushrooms is, if I search for something “simple” here, like a fish which I can buy easily in a store, called “Lieu Noir”… I can find a lovely French Wikipedia page for this, but when clicking on the “English” link down the page, I get this – “Pollachius virens” – rrrright, thanks! Anyway, I stuggled a bit at first to find the ideal translations for the mushrooms I used, but eventually got the right terms, and learned something new too. The first mushroom, the chanterelle, is actually also occasionally called by its French name, girolle. The second one, the cep, is actually a porcini mushroom – I never knew this before!

Anyway, enough nattering – have a fabulous weekend everyone, and enjoy the recipe! :)

Penne with Chanterelle and Cep Sauce

[learn_more caption=”Video Recipe”]


Penne with Chanterelle and Cep Sauce ingredients

  • 400g Penne pasta
  • 10g Dried Chanterelle/Girolle Mushrooms (or handful of fresh)
  • 15g Dried Cep/Porcini Mushrooms (or handful of fresh)
  • ~5 medium Button Mushrooms
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 3 tbsps Olive Oil + little extra to drizzle on top after serving
  • ~30cl Crème Fraiche
  • Parmesan for garnishing
  • ~4-5 fresh Basil leaves
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper


  1. If using dried mushrooms, start off by rehydrating them. While different brands may suggest different methods, a common way is to place them into warm water for 15 minutes, stirring gently every 5 minutes or so. While the mushrooms rehydrate, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and, when boiling, pour the pasta into the pan. Cook for the length required according to personal taste and while the pasta is cooking peel and chop the onion finely. Set aside for now and then chop the button mushrooms finely. Finally, once they have been rehydrated, chop the chanterelles and ceps well too. Around this point, the pasta should be ready – drain it and transfer it to a large heat-proof bowl or pan. Cover and set aside while we prepare the rest of the dish.
    Chopping the mushrooms
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add in the onion. Fry gently, stirring well, until softened and then add in the chopped mushrooms as well as a few good twists of salt. Fry the mushrooms through until turning a delicious golden brown. Pour the onions and mushrooms directly into the pasta in the pan and stir well. Spoon in the crème fraiche and stir once again.
    Frying the mushrooms through
  3. Serve into bowls and grate parmesan cheese liberally over the top. Roll the basil leaves up tightly along their length and, using a sharp knife, cut the basil very finely to create a chiffonade. Sprinkle over the top before finally grinding some black pepper over and drizzle on some olive oil before enjoying!
    Penne with Chanterelle and Cep Sauce


  1. says

    I am indeed looking forward to your new additions to your blog Charles! I’m not much of a pasta eater (not because I don’t LOVE it, I do, but because it just doesn’t agree with the shape I think I should be!) but I do love the sound of this sauce! Our neighbours recently brought back a gift of dried chanterelles that are screaming for something as tasty as this! I actually love dried shrooms better than fresh, they have so much more flavour.

    • says

      Hi Eva, I gotta say that pasta is a big weakness of mine. It’s one of those things that I start eating and really have difficulty stopping because it’s so moreish!

      Totally agree about the dried mushrooms being so packed with flavour. I wonder, can one use the water they were rehydrated in? Maybe it’s a silly question, but it had a lovely colour and I thought of using it in the pasta water to bump up the flavour even more, but didn’t in the end.

  2. says

    Hi Charles,

    That does look rather yummy-just my sort of food!! Really looking forward to seeing how your blog develops with its new exciting ‘twist’-good ideas!

    Off to spend the day in the garden sorting out the vegetables who have made massive growth in the last week…as have the weeds…still, should be a lovely supper tonight with home-grown lettuce, spinach, chard and the first of my watercress-yippee!!

    • says

      Thanks GD – your supper sounded wonderful – I’m so jealous! How did you grow the watercress? Does one not need big beds of water for that?

      I’m hoping you’ve written a post about the lovely veg… I’m going to head over to your site in a minute to see :)

      • says

        Hi Charles,

        No I’ve not done a post on it …yet…

        Dead simple to grow-even on a balcony methinks!

        I get the type ‘Aqua’ available from many of the British seed companies now- Marshalls, Unwins, Suttons, Fothergill’s etc. I use a wide circular seed container (about 12 inches across) with about 30cm deep of compost and make sure the container is in a deep saucer. I water every other day or so from the top(if it doesn’t rain) and make sure the saucer is always full. Last year’s plants have overwintered fairly well giving this weekend’s first crop and the new seed I plant just a week ago has already sprung up. It likes light shade so I have it in the shadow of the pots of climbing beans. Needs frequent picking to stimulate new growth-which is not a problem at all!

        Really recommend growing it…and the recipes to use it…don’t get me started-I just love using it!!

        • says

          Thanks GD – looking forward to seeing your post if/when you do write it up.

          Thanks for the info about the watercress. I had no idea it was so simple to grow, although I don’t think I can do it here. My balconies get blasted with the mid-day sun every day which can pose a bit of a problem for some plants. Definitely something I’ll be bearing in mind though – thanks!

  3. says

    Looking forward to seeing your newly invented blog Charles, and all the upcoming surprises of course. What a great looking pasta. I make something similar and it is so simple, requires so few ingredients but is so delicious. No wonder your wife wanted to give up her seafood for your mushrooms xx

    • says

      Thanks Charlie, did you post your dish before? I know you’ve posted a lot of great family meals which are nice and simple to make, perfect for a hot day (like today in fact!).

  4. says

    Hi Charles-I am so thrilled to find you through my dear friend Ping’s blog! I love your blog, and I am posting it on my blogroll list, so I will not be missing your latest! I invite you to visit, and follow my blog. (if you would have a friends follow, I would follow as well)

    Your penne is simple…yet amazing with the 2 kinds of mushrooms, and the Cep sauce. Love your step-by-step photo instructions, your posts, and I also clicked on your previous trip on the canal…very nice trip, and photos!
    Happy Birthday to your dear MUM…as they say it in British!

    • says

      Hi Elisabeth – lovely to meet you and thanks for stopping by! I’ll be sure to add you to my RSS reader so I keep up to date on your new posts!

      Glad you liked the canal post – it was a fun trip, albeit rather wet! The pasta was fabulous.. perhaps even better the next day when the wonderful mushroom flavours had infused so well to the pasta!

  5. says

    Perfect, anything with mushrooms in it is a winner as far as I´m concerned and this looks so creamy and delicious. Looking forward to all the new things coming up. Like you (and many others I´m sure) I really enjoy reading cookery books and usually have a couple on the go on the bedside table. And happy birthday to your mother – hope she has a great day!

    • says

      Hi Chica – problem is, I read cookery books before bed and then I have a sudden strong urge to eat snacks because I have like zero will-power 😀 Sigh – terrible habit 😀

    • says

      Hi Jean, it’s strange isn’t it – well, I think so – how pasta can taste the same but people can have such preference for specific shapes. I adore penne, although my favourite is a different shape… I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it right now, and the Wikipedia page on Pasta shapes isn’t helping :(

  6. says

    I love your blog just the way it is but if you think that you can make it better then I’m sure it will be. The pasta sounds terrific. Wish I could get fresh chantarelle and porcini mushrooms here.

    • says

      Thanks Karen :) Dried mushrooms are actually more flavoursome! Fresh is nice of course… having a big basket of chantarelle mushrooms is really fun, but you need to use a lot to get a good flavour in a pasta sauce!

  7. says

    Hello Charles, this time from Germany!

    These are my 2 favourite mushrooms. They’ve got character.. and pasta with mushroom is a winner! simple, fragrant and belly warming!

    I’m glad you admit that culinary books are a sort of bedtime reading for you! It’s the same here..I stopped counting how many I have!

    • says

      Hi Nada – so you’ve arrived in Germany now?! You must be tired… so many different countries over the past few weeks it seems – I hope you can settle down and relax a bit now :)

      I love these mushrooms too, although I also adore portobello, shiitake, and enoki… so yummy!

  8. says

    First, a “Happy Birthday” to your mom (she’s a gemini, like me!). Second, I look forward to your new additions to your food blog. I agree, we need to keep in mind that it’s suppose to be fun. I know you do a great job entertaining us on your blog!
    This recipe is something I would love to eat right about now! I have been in such a carb craze lately! I just can’t get enough of bread and pasta! :)

    • says

      Thanks Lisa – does that it will be your birthday soon…? Or did you sneakily not mention it? 😀

      Carbs – gah, such a weakness of mine too. I can gorge myself on pasta, breads and potatoes on a daily basis :( Hope you’re having a wonderful saturday, and that the weather there is as great as it is here :)

  9. says

    I hope your mom had a great birthday! Friday was our anniversary (38th!) so we took the day off, went to lunch and spent the afternoon on the front porch chatting and drinking mint juleps. :) A wonderful day and now we have a 3 day weekend! WooHoo! Oh Charles – I so admire you for all of the thought you put into planning and changing your blog! I’ve always been a shoot from the hip kind of person, so even when I do plan, the plan usually ends up in the trash. I’m the “wing it” kid! :) I do look forward to whatever changes you make because I know I will continue to love visiting you! Your pasta and mushroom dish is fabulous! Thanks for the French names of these wonderful mushrooms! Have a great weekend!

    • says

      Thanks so much MJ – I called my mother on the 25th and told her I’d mentioned her birthday! She was looking forward to looking through the post! Your weekend sounds wonderful – so relaxing. The good thing is that it’s Wednesday already – almost time for another weekend… just another couple of days 😀

      Thanks for your kind comment – I hope the new things I write about will be entertaining :)

  10. says

    Happy (belated) birthday to your mum! I love mushrooms especially in pasta so will definitely give this a go. Look forward to your new changes and the third secret one.. I’m sure all will be revealed in good time :) They are both great ideas and makes me think if I want to do something different with my blog.

    • says

      Thanks BA – agreed, aren’t mushrooms and pasta just the most awesome combination? I hope you like the small changes I’ll be making in time. The third one I will announce very soon! :)

  11. says

    Oh, I love all your new blog ideas! Just what us foodies want to see. And I’m loving the sound of your pasta…the more mushrooms the better….this one’s a keeper!

  12. says

    I hate it when I regret ordering something because my husband’s dish is much better than mine. Lucky for your wife, you are able to recreate the dish for her! My husband would love this, so I’ll have to make it for when when I’m eating carbs a little more. Nicely done Charles.

    • says

      Thanks Barb – you know, I think restaurants should give you the option of ordering mini versions of their main courses, so you could eat maybe 4 different types…. I always get terrible food envy!

  13. says

    Ah, if I had only read this before I went to the market this morning I might have found it necessary to purchase some chantarelles and dried porcini. Fresh basil came in today and I bought a big bunch to make the first pesto of the year. Penne is one of my favorite pastas. Maybe next week…

    • says

      Hi Sharyn – mm, fresh basil! I just bought a big plant of it the other day… might make a pesto on the weekend – yum!

  14. says

    Hi Charles,
    This dish looks to die for. I love pasta and mushrooms . I really like that you have used different types of mushrooms. I tend to use the boring button mushrooms. I really need to give this a shot, once I am back from my family vacation to India.

  15. says

    Oh! You’re hitting me in my weak spot this week. Pasta!!!!! I seriously could eat a 1/2 lb. of pasta nightly if I let myself. It’s my ultimate comfort food and so versatile. I love this combination with the mushrooms. We just went shopping for this week already, but I’m putting this on next week’s menu for sure! Lovely Charles! And I look forward to all of the new things you have coming up. Sounds fabulous. :)

    • says

      Thanks Kristy – pasta is dangerous stuff… loaded up with calories and so tasty that people will eat it very quickly and of course still feel hungry at the end. It’s important to slow down a bit and question whether you’re actually still hungry but damn is that hard when you have a hot bowl of creamy pasta in front of you 😀

      I hope you enjoy it!

    • says

      Haha, you could have 8 actually, though you’d probably need to double the recipe, but just think… Enough for lunch and dinner every day for 4 days! 😀

  16. says

    Hello Charles
    Long time since I visited your space. Few things, work and toddler kept me busy. Anyways I am back to your blog and I am loving your easy breezy pasta recipe. Ya keeper recipe for sure which can be made on a weekday too. And happy birthday to your mom. I am looking forward to your new additions to the blog. Good luck!!! Will come back for more 😉

  17. says

    What a gorgeous delightful simple pasta dish! I will be also making lots of chanterelle dishes when they are in season here.
    (By the way, there is a typo: it should be “chanterelle” not “chantarelle”, in both English and French). Actually cèpe is called penny-bun in English, but unfortunately most British don’t pick mushrooms, they have forgotten the name and started to call it in Italian (I once heard an outraged chef talking about it on BBC radio). Now that there are so many Poles in Britain, British forests must be empty of mushrooms 😉 In the countries like Poland where people pick mushrooms even if they are city dwellers, there are usually several names for every popular mushroom depending on the region.
    It’s a bit like the French calling cranberry “cranberry” instead of canneberge because they haven’t eaten them traditionally and now that they are in fashion, they call them in English (I get goose pimples when I hear them saying “cranberry”).
    I’m looking forward to read your cookery books reviews. It’s an excellent idea!

    • says

      Hi Sissi, thanks for the correction – I’ll fix it in a second! I was sure it seemed wrong but looked it up on Wikipedia and even though Wiki told me your spelling, somehow I read this as the wrong spelling :p

      I was watching a show the other day which was talking about the gathering of mushrooms in British forests – looks like so much fun, especially that mushroom called “Beef steak” 😀

  18. says

    Hi Charles, I agree, it’s fun to reflect on the blog and the direction you would like to take it in (mind you, at this point, I’d just be thankful for a bit of time to actually tend to it! :)).

    I especially love flipping through cooking magazines… I’ll often unwind in bed with a good food mag before retiring at night. I can’t get enough of those glossy, bright pages with the gawk-worthy food photography ;-).

    And cheers to the idea of keeping it fun!

  19. says

    That sounds like a great feature. I like that theme. I envy the mushrooms you must find so easily in the markets over there. I always find it interesting the things you say you can’t find, since I would think you live in foodie heaven. But mushrooms must be findable there right? Anyway, you know I love pasta and this is a winner.

    • says

      Thanks Greg – there are a lot of things I can get here of course, but it seems that some things are really not common here at all – some examples: green tomatoes, yellow/golden beets, raw beets (any colour), horse-radish root… I’m sure these things do exist, somewhere, but they’re definitely not easily accessible!

  20. says

    This looks really delicious Charles. I am in love with mushroom and on a kick right now. I have nominated you for the Excellence in Storytelling Award. Please visit the site for all the particulars.

    Going to check out your other fab food that I missed, busy week and under the weather. Happy Birthday to you Mum.

    • says

      Thanks so much Suzi – I’ll check them out :)

      I hope you’ve been having a less busy week and are feeling a bit better now!

  21. says

    Happy Belated Birthday to your mother! :-) Oh wow this pasta looks delicious. I’ve never tried this chantarelle mushrooms before. Assume it has very nice flavor and fragrance to it. I love porcini mushroom though. It adds great flavor to the food and quite addicting. Your post made me want to eat pasta this week. I’ve been trying to avoid but how could I? Your photo will make me crave for it until I eat it… :-)

    Sorry about my delay in response (I’ve accumulated crazy amount of email that I’m a little suffering!). I hope you like the restaurant that Leemei suggested! :-)

    • says

      Thanks Nami, the pasta was great – I hope you have a chance to try it… let me know if you do! Totally agree – porcini mushrooms are so good… mushrooms in general are wonderful; I don’t think I could ever choose one favourite mushroom… too hard!

      I hope you’ve been able to catch up a bit now :)

  22. Clare says

    Yey! I always love it when you do hob-top recipes which don’t involve ovens, coz it means I can try them here. Will definitely have a go at this one. It looks so nice, and not too complicated. Looking forward to your next posts.

    • says

      Thanks Clare – it’s really simple actually. Are you able to get these types of mushroom there? I tried it once using “regular” white button mushrooms only and it wasn’t good. You need a mushroom with a good flavour ideally.

  23. says

    This is something that we would totally enjoy at our house for dinner. Simple, hearty, but delicious. I love cooking mushrooms, they are so flavorful especially if you can find the wild varieties. But even the white button type from the grocery store is wonderful sauteed on its own!

    • says

      Thanks Yudith – mushrooms are wonderful indeed, although dried ones always have a wonderful, strong flavour which it’s hard to get from fresh ones sometimes – I think it’s why they work so well in pasta!

  24. says

    Thanks to kristy I got to see this beauty that I missed before Charles. I love mushrooms but sadly I can’t always find the wonderful variety in your recipe. I am going shopping tomorrow and I will do my best to look for these


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