Pasta alla boscaiola and an Ischia bianco

As seen on Masterchef Food Hub

Pasta all boscaiola, or ‘woodman’s pasta’, is a classic Italian dish which is in essence a combination of mushrooms, pancetta and cream. Some recipes include tomato, but I prefer mine without – which I assume is the earlier, original version anyway. It can be absolutely heavenly when properly and freshly made and feels oh, so very indulgent!

N.B. The version featured here uses creamy, pumpkin and ricotta filled mezzaluna, so I have slightly reduced the amount of cream used. If making with dry pasta such as pappardelle (highly recommended!), you can just about double the amount of heavy cream.

  • 500g fresh filled pasta (such as pumpkin mezzaluna)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 150 g mild pancetta
  • a few dried porcini mushrooms (5 or 6) soaked in 1/2 cup warm water
  • a handful of other assorted mushrooms (I used Swiss brown), sliced
  • 100 ml heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • small handful walnuts
  • extra virgin olive oil
1. Put your water on to boil.
2. Cut the pancetta into small pieces. (Look at that gorgeous colour! I love pancetta!)

3. Warm a pan and add olive oil, a splash of water (yes really!), the crushed garlic and rosemary sprig. (The water helps bring out the flavours, a hint I picked up from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg.)

4. Add the pancetta and sauté until softened and slightly golden.

5. Squeeze out the porcini and add to the pan, along with the other assorted mushrooms.

6. By now your water should be boiling, so salt the water generously and add the pasta.

7. After the mushrooms have collapsed, add the cream and stir well. Simmer gently until slightly reduced and thickened.

8. When the pasta is cooked and drained, toss it into the pan along with the crushed walnuts and grated parmesan.

Serve with some extra virgin olive oil and a slightly fruity soave or pinot grigio – or try, as I did, this delicious Casa d’Ambra Ischia Bianco 2009 ($26) which I was persuaded to buy by a very enthusiastic wine seller at Annandale cellars who obviously shared my love of Italian whites. The pasta and wine made a very happy marriage!

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