The Dish: Acorn pasta with fettuccine, pecorino romano, and maitake and oyster mushrooms
Where To Get It: Evening Star Cafe; 2000 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-549-5051; eveningstarcafe.net
What It Is: Chef Jonathan Till made his own flour from 30 or so pounds of acorns mainly harvested from his Virginia yard this fall. The process involves shelling the acorns, soaking them in cold water to remove the tannins, dehydrating them, and then grinding them. Till blends the gluten-free flour with semolina, eggs, olive oil, and water before cranking it into fettuccine. The bowl of acorn pasta comes with pecorino romano cheese, plus two types of mushrooms.
The Story: For Till, a dedicated forager, it wasn’t much of a leap to move from seeking mushrooms in the wild to acorns, since the fungi often grow on or near oak trees. After seeing a recipe for acorn flour pancakes in a foraging book, Till started to wonder if it could also work in pasta. He expects the flour to run out by the end of January and is considering making gnocchi with next fall’s batch.
What It Tastes Like: Till likens the acorn’s flavor to a mild chestnut, so its flour adds an earthiness that complements mushrooms and umami-rich Italian cheeses for an overall rich and comforting winter dish.