On my September 2012 culinary trip to Italy, my husband and I enjoyed freshly made pasta with porcini mushrooms at a favorite hotel/restaurant close to the medieval hilltop town of Spoleto in Umbria.

Because dried porcini mushrooms have a bold flavor, they’re simply sautéed in olive oil – that’s it! Make this and enjoy true Italian flavors at home. The only problem is that you’ll think twice before spending $25+ for pasta in a restaurant. Buon appetito!

Prep time: 20 to 25 minutes (cooking the pasta and making sauce)
Serves: 4

One pound ready made tagliatelle or fettuccine
2 cups dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 3 cups boiling water for 8 minutes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1/3 cup cold water, set aside
Salt, to taste

1. Set a 6-quart sauce pot with water on stove burner and bring to a boil; set aside on simmer/boil.
2. Meanwhile, drain the porcini mushrooms and reserve the soaking liquid.

3. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium-high setting. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of the soaking liquid and simmer on low.

4. In the meantime, add pasta and 1 teaspoon salt to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until pasta is al dente (crunchy-tender).

5. Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the porcini sauce in skillet. Stir the pasta while raising heat to high.

6. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pasta in skillet, stirring and gently lifting the pasta with tongs. If pasta mixture looks too dry, add a little more of the mushroom soaking liquid. The sauce should lightly adhere to the pasta and it should not be too runny.

7. Add salt, and if desired, a little more olive oil. Taste and serve immediately, dividing the pasta into 4 portions. Do not add any cheese, as it will conflict with the porcini mushroom flavors.

*If using the Homemade Tagliatelle recipe, add 55 to 60 minutes to prep time.

Wine pairing suggestion: Chianti or Barolo.

Note: Pappardelle variety pasta was used in photograph.

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real