Monday, 30 April 2012

Tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms

This is one of my all time favourite pasta dishes. I love porcini mushrooms but unfortunately it's very difficult to buy them fresh here, even in the autumn, when they're in season. Happily, good quality dried porcini make an excellent substitute.

Some Italians add cream to the sauce but I think it masks the flavour of the mushrooms so I prefer to keep it simple. I've used tagliatelle here but pappardelle and fettuccine both work well too.

RECIPE - Serves 2

200g tagliatelle
40-50g dried porcini
1 shallot, finely chopped
half a glass dry white wine
1 tablespoon passata
a handful fresh parsley, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
a knob of butter
salt and pepper
fresh parmesan to serve

Put the dried mushrooms to soften in a jug of warm water for about half an hour.

Take the mushrooms out of the water (but make sure you don't throw it away as you will need it later on) and rinse them well, making sure there are no tiny particles of grit or soil left lurking in any crevasses. If they're very big, you can roughly chop them but don't make them too small. Filter the mushroom water by pouring it through a sieve lined with a sheet of kitchen towel.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and the knob of butter in a pan and add the finely chopped shallot. Cook over a gentle heat until soft. Add the mushrooms and carry on cooking for a few minutes.

Throw in the wine and let it bubble and absorb. Then add some of the mushroom water and let it absorb. Stir in the passata and cook for a few more minutes, adding more mushroom water if it seems to be getting too dry. Stir in the parsley and a good grinding of black pepper. Add salt to taste.

Cook the tagliatelle while you're preparing the sauce. When the pasta is ready, add a ladleful of the cooking water to the mushrooms. Drain the pasta and add it to the mushroom sauce, mixing everything together gently. Serve with a generous grating of fresh parmesan.

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