World Pasta Day

RECIPE: Wild Mushroom Ragu with Bucatini

 
WITH MUSHROOMS POPPING UP IN THE WOODS and in markets, this seemed like the perfect Friday night dinner this week. I did some one-stop shopping for the ingredients at Eataly, where I found shitakes and chanterelles, along with Barilla dried bucatini and prosciutto. (This recipe is a perfect example of the Mediterranean meat-as-condiment idea.)
 
Serves 4
 
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 small celery stalk, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
3½ ounces prosciutto (sliced ⅛-inch-thick), cubed*
1¼ pound mixed wild mushrooms, such as shitake, chanterelle, trumpet or blue foot, trimmed and halved
¼ cup vegetable broth
¼ cup water
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¾ pound bucatini or spaghetti
½ cup heavy cream
 
*Although I didn't use it today, Citterio makes a 4 oz. package of cubed prosciutto (with no weird additives—ham and sea salt are the only two ingredients) that’s super convenient.
 
 
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, onion and prosciutto; reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 7 minutes. Add mushrooms, broth, water and pinch salt and pepper; stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until mushrooms are very tender, about 30 minutes.
 
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. While pasta is cooking, warm cream to a simmer. Drain pasta, transfer to a large serving bowl, add hot cream and mushroom mixture, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.
 
Adapted from a recipe in La Cucina Italiana. 

Celebrating World Pasta Day

 
NOT THAT I NEED AN EXCUSE to enjoy pasta, but next Monday, October 25, is World Pasta Day (did you know?), and I thought I’d get a head start with tonight’s dinner. Which, of course, was an excuse for another visit to Eataly, the Batali/Bastianich Italian food hall that opened this summer at 5th and 23rd. There, I found everything I needed to make a wonderful wild mushroom ragù with bucatini. (More on that in a minute.)
 
Pasta took some knocks when low-carb diets were popular. But eaten in reasonable portions (1 to 1½ cups cooked, say), pasta is part of a healthy Mediterranean diet—and a much beloved food. The complex carbs provide energy, of course, as any cyclist will tell you. Whole-wheat pasta is the most nutrient-rich, with at least three times the fiber of refined pasta. It’s also pretty tasty, which wasn’t always the case. Pasta made from refined durum wheat flour or durum semolina often gets a nutritional boost from being enriched with iron, folic acid and other B-vitamins. We eat some of both in our household.
 
Then there’s the sauce: Pasta is often referred to as an “efficient delivery system” for other healthy foods. I hate to think of any food on my plate being merely a delivery system—sounds so clinical. If you buy high-quality pasta (dried or fresh) it’s delicious in and of itself. But I know what they mean. Sauces full of vegetables and legumes are an easy and delicious way to incorporate those hard-to-get daily recommended servings of vegetables into your meals. But drown your pasta in sauce?! How gauche. Well, here’s cookbook author Mark Bittman’s take on the sauce-to-pasta ratio question. 
 
One of my favorite companions to pasta is fresh tomato sauce with cannellini beans and herbs. But today, I’m going for something different. With mushrooms popping up in the woods and in markets everywhere, it’s the perfect season to make this dish.
 

 

 

 

 

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