Sunday, January 6, 2013

Penne with Porcini Mushrooms and Tomatoes (and Happy New Year!)

Happy 2013 everyone!  I hope everyone had a fun and safe holiday.  New years always feels like a new beginning -- a chance to do something new, or better, or differently.  To refocus on what is important.  I look forward to this year -- to training for another race, baking new things (I got several pastry books for Christmas and my fingers are itching to try the recipes!), to time with my family and friends, to spring, to new friendships.   So before I post this recipe, a few pics of my baby animals being cuter than ever...

Aren't they amazing?! I love that they sleep together like that... I can't get over it.  Anyways, back to food...

This is a wonderful pasta dish.  It is one of Marcella Hazan's recipes and is one that I grew up eating and remains one of my favorites.  It is also incredibly simple to make, although it takes some time.  The combination of porcini mushrooms,  pancetta and tomatoes is rich without being heavy and is very satisfying on a cold winter night.  You can omit the pancetta -- I often do -- to make it vegetarian.   It is delicious either way.  I served it with these homemade Dinner Rolls.


4 T. unsalted butter
1 T. olive oil
2 T. finely chopped shallot or yellow onion
2 T. diced pancetta (optional)
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1 1/2 cups (or more) whole peeled Italian tomatoes (from a 28 oz can) with their juices, cut up
salt and black pepper, to taste

Parmesan, for serving

1 lb. penne rigati or other tubular pasta


1.   Put dried porcini mushrooms in 1 cup of warm water to soak for 30 minutes.  Drain porcini through a strainer lined with paper towels into a bowl, reserving soaking liquid.  Rinse porcini in several changes of cold water.

2.  Combine butter, olive oil and onion in a saute pan and cook over medium heat until pale gold.  Add pancetta and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Add tomatoes, porcini, the reserved liquid from the mushroom soak and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occassionally.

3.  Drop pasta into 4 to 5 quarts boiling salted water and cook until al dente.  Transfer pasta to a warm bowl, add sauce, and toss to combine.  Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.