Penne with Porcini Mushroom Sauce

pasta alla boscaiola


This traditional Tuscan recipe, Penne with Porcini Mushroom Sauce, is deep with flavor. It’s adapted from a recipe I learned to cook at Toscana Saporita. I used slightly different ingredients because I used what I had on hand, and I also scaled it down to serve 4. Both the original ingredients and my modifications are included below.

The thing I love about cooking is that you can always create a dish uniquely you by using/substituting similar ingredients. Either ingredients you have on hand or by using what’s in season. I know Sandra would approve. After all, that is the way of most Italian cooks – use what you have, use what’s in season, and don’t waste anything!
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Prep time: 25 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a medium yellow onion (or equal parts onion and leek), diced
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large handful (about 2-3 oz.) of dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in a bowl of warm water, then chopped. Filter and reserve liquid.
  • 1 large, fresh tomato diced (or 1 cup canned tomatoes, squeezed by hand or drained well)
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream (or 3 tablespoons of Mascarpone cheese)
  • 3 tablespoons of red wine (my addition; not from original recipe!)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper quanto basta (enough or to taste)
  • 1/2 pound of Penne (or same amount of fresh egg pasta )
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano for serving

Preparation:
Softly fry* onion (and leek if using) in a large pan with the olive oil. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. If the mixture looks dry, add tablespoons of water to mixture.
*sofritto (or softly fried) is an Italian cooking technique

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When the onion mixture is creamy and soft, add the rehydrated and drained porcinis; blend well. Cook for 5 minutes.

Slowly add the reserved liquid from the porcinis and the tomatoes. Cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the heavy cream or mascarpone, blend well and season with salt and pepper.

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To cook pasta:
Bring the water to a rapid boil and add salt. Cook the pasta until al dente (still firm; slightly underdone). Drain and reserve cooking water.

Add the parsley and blend well.

Serve with a generous dust of Parmigiano Reggiano. Enjoy this wonderful pasta dish, Penne with Porcini Mushroom Sauce!

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