This scrumptious pasta was presented to my husband while we were in Rome, Italy. It’s called chitarra, which means “guitar” because the freshly-made pasta sheet is placed on a cutter with strings. By pushing the sheet through strings, the result is a variety of pasta called chitarra. Its shape is long and slightly thicker than spaghetti. Chitarra can be purchased either in Italian grocery stores or from online gourmet food companies.
Typically from Lazio (Rome’s region), chitarra can be made with different sauces. This recipe combines mushrooms, peas, cream and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. It’s not only a traditional dish, but it’s easy – and I’d say that this is the best part!
Prep time: 20 to 25 minutes
8 ounces white mushrooms (cultivated variety), rinsed and pat dry with paper towels
4 tablespoons fine quality olive oil
1 scallion, peeled and finely chopped
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound chitarra pasta variety (spaghetti can be substituted)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (optional)
1/2 to 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1. Fill a 6-quart sauce pot with water and set it on high heat.
2. Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms and set them aside in a bowl.
3. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the oil. Add the mushrooms and chopped scallion to the oil in skillet.
4. Using a wooden spoon, stir fry the mushroom mixture on medium-high heat. When onion is translucent, stir in the salt and pepper, to taste.
5. Continue cooking on medium heat until 3/4 of the mushroom liquid has been absorbed; set skillet with mushroom mixture aside.
6. In the meantime, add the pasta and 1 teaspoon salt to the boiling water.
7. Cook pasta for 6 to 7 minutes.
8. After 6 to 7 minutes, add peas to the pasta water.
9. Cook pasta and peas for an additional 2 to 4 minutes or until pasta is al dente (crunchy-tender).
10. While waiting for pasta to finish cooking, heat the skillet with mushroom mixture.
11. Drain the pasta and peas in a colander (reserve 1-1/2 cups pasta liquid).
12. Transfer the pasta and peas to the hot mushroom mixture in skillet. Stir in 1 cup of the pasta liquid.
13. Using two wooden spoons, gently toss the pasta-mushroom mixture as it simmers or boils.
14. Stir in the cream and 1/2 cup of the cheese.
15. Gently toss and cook until the cream has thickened and pasta has heated through.
16. If pasta seems a little dry, add remaining 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Stir in a little more cheese, to taste.
Wine pairing suggestion: Chilled Trebbiano or Pinot Grigio (whites).
Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real