If you are lucky enough to get your hands on fresh porcini mushrooms, do not miss out on this Italian 'Tagliatelle-ai-porcini' recipe! Tagliatelle is the most traditional kind of pasta to go with porcini because it's rich and soaks up all the sauce. Pappardelle or fettuccine will work too.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
200g tomato passata
salt and pepper, to taste
300g tagliatelle pasta (or about 2 nests per serving)
small bunch of fresh parsley with stems
1 whole garlic clove, peeled
3 big porcini (about 150g), cleaned with a vegetable brush and sliced
120ml white wine
grated Parmsesan or Pecorino cheese, to serve
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Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in tomato passata and a pinch of salt. Cook on low for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring from time to time and checking that it's not getting too thick. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Meanwhile, cook the tagliatelle in abundant salted water until 'al dente', about 1 minute less than is stated on the packet.
Chop the stems and leaves of the parsley separately. Place the stems in a saucepan with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 clove of garlic. Cook on low heat until the garlic is golden then add the porcini mushrooms, stirring well to coat them in the oil. Add a pinch of salt and pour in wine. Turn up the heat and let the alcohol evaporate. Stir in the passata tomato sauce and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often. Scoop out garlic clove with a slotted spoon and discard.
Drain the tagliatelle, reserving about 1 ladle of cooking liquid. Transfer the pasta into the mushrrom sauce then finish cooking on medium/high heat for about 1 minute. Add reserved cooking water, a little at a time, if needed to keep the sauce moist.
Remove from heat, portion into dishes and sprinkle the freshly chopped parsley leaves on top. Each guest can add Pecorino or Parmigiano to suit their taste.
This dish uses only a little tomato sauce (200g passata) because flavour focus is the mushrooms rather than the tomatoes.