Crispy Mushroom and Olive Oil Cacio e Pepe
4 tablespoons Gil’s California Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 cup sliced maitake or oyster mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (plus extra for garnish)
1/2 teaspoon San Fran Sea Salt (plus extra for salting the pasta water)
1/2 lb spaghetti noodles
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2 1/2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
2oz grated pecorino romano
Fill a large pot with water and generously season with salt, bring to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, preheat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the cremini mushrooms and half (1/2 cup) of the shiitake mushrooms to the skillet, being careful not to overcrowd the skillet. Fry the mushrooms, flipping occasionally, for 3 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mushrooms to a paper towel-lined plate. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Fry the remaining shiitake mushrooms and maitake mushrooms, for 3 minutes (or until golden brown and crisp), and remove with a slotted spoon. Add the garlic and thyme to the hot skillet and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer the mushrooms to a large bowl, add the garlic and thyme, and toss to coat. Return the fried mushrooms to the paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
Once the water is boiling, add spaghetti and cook according to the instructions on the package. Reduce the package’s cooking time by 2 minutes. Once the pasta is tender, remove 1 1/2 cups of pasta water, set aside, then drain the remaining water, and rinse the pasta noodles.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the cracked black pepper, and sauté for 1 minute. Whisk in half of the pasta water (3/4 cup) and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to low, and add the cooked spaghetti to the skillet. Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle in the grated pecorino, stirring and tossing the pasta with tongs until the cheese has melted. If the sauce becomes too thick, add additional pasta water to thin.
Divide pasta between plates and top with crispy mushrooms. Garnish with thyme leaves before serving.