Porcini Mushroom Fettuccine

Porcini Mushroom Fettuccine Recipe

This fettuccine recipe was inspired one of the many trips I made to the Testaccio Market while in Rome over the past couple of weeks. As the dollar was creeping toward an all-time low against the Euro, I somehow convinced Wayne it was a good time to go to Rome - not only that, I convinced him it was a good idea to spend nearly a month in Rome and central Italy.

Because of the time difference between San Francisco and Italy we'd find ourselves wide-eyed at 5:00 a.m. those first couple of mornings - ready to start the day. Rome was still dark and quiet, and for those few early hours the cobblestone streets outside our window were void of the characteristic melee of cars, scooters, pedestrians, and baby buggies fighting over common byways. Our apartment was in the heart of Trastevere, and depending on your choice of footwear, within walking distance of most of the center city. If I were to try to emulate the Italians in their 3-inch stilettos, chances are I wouldn't make it across the Tiber.

A few cafes would roll up their metal gates at sunrise. An hour or so later you might stumble on vendors setting up umbrellas and tables in the middle of a piazza, getting ready for the first influx of shoppers. Rome's markets are legendary, and while the Campo dei Fiori and San Cosimato markets were the closest to our apartment, I found myself looking forward to a daily trek south through Trastevere, across the Ponte Sublicio, and down the street to the Testaccio Market in Rome's ancient slaughterhouse district. The tourists were few and far between (in contrast to the rest of the city), and the market is frequented by Romans from the immediate neighborhood. The sellers were friendly - the elderly lady with her eggs stacked up by the dozen and half dozen on a collapsable card table in one corner remembered me on day two (or maybe it was just my painfully bad Italian), there was a great range of produce, and much of it seemed well cared for.

Shopping at the markets in Rome is an interesting exercise for me. It's both totally comfortable and curiously foreign. I'm familiar with much of the produce and know what to do with it - shop well, and don't screw it up by over-handling it once I get it back to the apartment. It's the market etiquette that throws me for a loop. Is it o.k. to bag your own tomatoes, or is that considered rude? The woman in front of me just bought enough greens and onions to feed forty people. The guy behind her bought five paper bags brimming with oranges and apples. Is it going to be weird if I want to buy just this one head of garlic? And on and on. I try not to sweat it too much, fumbling along, mute for the most part, smiling and gesticulating a lot. More times than not people smile back.

fettuccine recipe

My first double-take at the Testaccio Market (and the inspiration for today's recipe) came when I walked by a vendor selling mushrooms. The porcini left me slack-jawed. They ranged in size from small to super-sized, bits of dirt and moss clung to each stem. Not to be outdone, the chanterelles glowed with golden light from their neighboring baskets. What to buy? I use chanterelles quite a lot at home so I opted for few modest-weight porcini. In addition to the mushrooms I picked up a dime-bag of freshly ground pepper that would later leave my lips tingling for hours. A short walk across the street to the little shop selling fresh egg pasta was my next stop. Behind the glass counter they had four or five types of pasta to choose from - none seemed quite right. I turned my head and caught a glimpse of a man leading long strands of fettuccine from the pasta machine, he gave me a warm smile. I pointed and gave a hopeful look to the woman behind the counter, and she said, "ahhhhh, fettuccine?" Si.

I left with enough fresh fettuccine to feed a small army under one arm, my market finds in a bag under the other. Wayne had a small piece of Pecorino cheese back at the apartment leftover from a picnic the day before...plenty to provide for a tasty dinner in our adopted kitchen - which by the way, was outfitted just slightly better than dueling gas burners in the New Zealand camper van ;)...More posts (and photos) to come from Italy soon!

Porcini Mushroom Fettuccine

I used pecorino, but you can use Parmesan if that is more convenient. I suspect this would also be delicious with spinach or whole wheat noodles, or a blend - similar to the "straw and hay" recipe in Super Natural Cooking. Feel free to use dried noodles as well, if that is easier for you to come by. If porcini mushrooms aren't available feel free to substitute brown mushrooms - roughly a cup or two chopped. If you want to get extra decadent, finish off the noodles with a splash of cream.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 fresh porcini mushrooms, chopped (1-2 cups)
fine grain sea salt
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound fresh egg fettuccine noodles
scant 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 cup pecorino cheese, grated
zest of one lemon

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in your largest skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms and a big pinch of salt. Saute the mushrooms until they release their liquid and begin to brown. Now stir in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so. Remove from heat and set the skillet aside - I also set aside a little stash of the browned mushrooms (in their own little cup) to use later as garnish.

Salt the pot of water generously and cook the fettuccine noodles according to package instructions - this is usually just a minute, or less. Drain. Transfer the noodles to the skillet with mushrooms, and stir in the black pepper, cheese, lemon zest, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. A splash of cream tossed in here would really take things over the top - totally optional.

Serve on a platter, with as many of the mushrooms on top as possible.

Serves 4 to 6.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • Forget the photos of Italy--may we please have a photo of the finished dish? I know the recipe is plenty mouth-watering, but I'd love to see the result. Yum!

    Susan
  • your jet lag is ithe inverse of mine. when i get to Europe I keep oversleeping in the morning and want to stay up all night, then when I get back here (as I have just done), I keep waking up all early like. I was up at 5 this morning, again, despite having been back for already for 6 days.

    sam
  • Wow, you are just in time. I just booked a trip to Rome in Feb. Hope it's not too cold for the markets. We are taking our 16 yr old grandson because he has done so well in school. Is there a restaurant we should definitly try? We were there before a cruise in 2000 but not long enough and wanted to return. We have a week this time. I get the feeling that no matter how many times you go, you want to return. Looking forward for more of your story. Thanks.

    sandy
  • Oh wow! Mushroom pasta - porcini, no less! Thanks for the recipe!

    Hillary
  • And i was feeling excited about hitting Vermont farmer's markets last week and Philly's next week! I'm inspired to make the same recipe tonight. Grazie...

    Pieds Des Anges (Kyla)
  • Heidi, how lucky to live in Rome for nearly a month! Wow. I wish... I haven't been there since I was 11-1/2. I spent 3 days there. I ate my first personal pizza, my first bowl of Pasta Fagioli, and my first Gelati at the bottom of the Spanish Steps. I wonder if the vendors are still there? It's been 34 years since I was there. I then spent 4 days in Florence. I remember it well. The food there was TDF. Lucky lady. In those days I was a picky eater. I wouldn't have eaten porcini pasta. I would today. I have a container of dried porcini in my pantry. I love the smell of them. I bought 1 fresh porcini at Wegman's once, just to taste the fresh version. It was $40 a lb. One cost me like $5 or something like that. It was well worth it. I will keep this and when I find fresh ones again I will make it. Until then I can use the dried, right?

    RisaG
  • Thank you so much Heidi for sharing this with us. Love your blog and artistic pictures!

    Babeth
  • I'm so jealous of your being in Italy while fresh porcinis are available. When I was there last year I found a wonderful brand of dried poricinis and carted two large bags of same home. Wish I 'd bought much, much more.

    casey
  • I just love pasta and mushrooms. The Italians knows how to eat well. I am always looking for ways to make pasta and checking out 101 Cookbooks will give me a chance to show my cooking skills.

    Sherry Ward
  • I studied abroad in Rome in college, and lived just blocks from the Campo dei Fiori. I would buy a bunch of fresh basil, bright-red tomatoes (I was there during the summer), lumps of buffalo mozzarella, and fresh bread at one of the little bakeries...I had caprese sandwiches almost every day for lunch! I've never been able to replicate that recipe here in Seattle, even with the buffalo mozzarella I can get at PCC, our local chain co-op. Somehow, it just doesn't cut it stateside. Thanks for posting your Italian experiences , Heidi! I look forward to seeing pictures.

    Rebecca
  • I've only discovered the joys of mushrooms and thus haven't tried chantarelle or porcini. But I did try trumpet royale...and they were out of this world!

    Nabeela
  • I love porcini pasta. Tossed with some fresh sage, butter, and some pecorino. Yummm.

    Stephen
  • wow, I just got back from italy myself. no time to cook, it was a ruin-gawking trip. Now I want to go back!

    anne
  • Hey, thanks a lot for this yummi and quick recipe! I love both pasta and mushrooms, and this is an inspiring way of enjoying them. Heidi, you make me nostalgic. Italy, italians, italian food! I was there a year ago, and I have great memories of that journey.

    Robustita
  • wow heidi! I just must go to Italy!! Between you and Shauna James Ahern... I am just dying to go! What a wonderful description you have given! That market sounds amazing! I would love to see fresh pasta being made and visit a market like that! Tell us more about your trip!!! Thank you for the wonderful recipe! I wonder if it would be excellent with gluten-free pasta as well?

    carrie
  • wow heidi! I just must go to Italy!! Between you and Shauna James Ahern... I am just dying to go! What a wonderful description you have given! That market sounds amazing! I would love to see fresh pasta being made and visit a market like that! Tell us more about your trip!!! Thank you for the wonderful recipe! I wonder if it would be excellent with gluten-free pasta as well?

    carrie
  • Ah, you're making me all misty eyed. My husband and I were married in Rome and spent three weeks traveling Italy this past May. My only regret was that of the two days that we spent in a self-catering apartment (with a kitchen), we were too far from the fresh markets to utilize their bounty. The markets made me drool, but the rest of the time we were in hotel type accommodations. The biggest difference I noticed about Italian food, besides the fact that everything was, well, better, was that even the most insignificant bit of produce or dairy seemed more flavorful and fresh than anything I've had in the US. The few modest meals I made were amazing, making me sad to realize I'd never be able to find such fresh ingredients in the U.S. Maybe if we didn't ship apples and lettuce 1500 miles, or homogenize cheese production until there's no flavor left, we Americans could enjoy our food the way that the Romans do! I hope you'll post some pictures from your trip! What a great entry...

    Rachael
  • One of the things I miss the most about Italy is going to the market...mostly because I would get to bring home my treasures and cook them up into a little feast for myself. Hope you are enjoying Rome.

    fortunata
  • Beautiful. Totally spectacular. I hate to admit this, but I don't actually like mushrooms. Even so, this recipe still makes my mouth water! I honestly believe that it doesn't get much better than Italy ... the sights, the smells, the people, and the absolutely to-die-for food. It just can't be beat.

    alteRecipes
  • mmmm! must be so nice to be in italy, in an apartment where you can experiment with the local produce (and cheeses! and wines!)... i spent a month in florence a few years ago and Italy is one of those places I dream of going back to... the fresh produce, the unbelievable food, the culture, the breathtaking architecture.... enjoy!!

    charlotte s
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