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Mushroom-Based Vegetable Sauces

Italians have many mushrooms, and many mushroom sauces for pasta. This is no surprise; mushrooms go very well with pasta, their rich earthy flavors nicely complementing the other ingredients in the sauce, especially tomatoes and cream.

Woodsman’s Pappardelle -- Pappardelle alla Boscaiola
Woodsman’s Pappardelle, or Pappardelle alla Boscaiola: Pasta with a mushroom sauce is one of the most common Italian restaurant dishes, and you will encounter it throughout the Peninsula. This recipe calls for porcini, boletus edilis, and they are necessary to do it justice. Ideally, the fresh porcini, but if you cannot find them you will have to make do: Purchase cultivated mushrooms and a 20-gram (1-ounce) packet of dried porcini...

Mushroom sauce for Pasta -- Salsa per Pasta con Funghi Crudi Coltivati
Mushroom sauce for Pasta, or Salsa per Pasta con Funghi Crudi Coltivati: This is a simple recipe from the Apuans, the peaks overlooking the coastal plains of northern Tuscany; it calls for champignons, but you could likely use other fresh mushrooms if you prefer.

Tagliatelle with Wild Mushrooms, Speck and Walnuts
Speck is the smoked prosciutto made in the Alto Adige, and it has a wonderfully woodsy feel about it that nicely complements both wild mushrooms and walnuts in this very tasty fall pasta sauce. The Italian recipe calls for Cardoncelli, Pleurotus eryngii, which are known in English as the king trumpet mushroom, French horn mushroom, or king oyster mushroom.

Penne with Porcini Mushrooms: Penne ai Funghi Porcini
Butter and sage is perfect with this mushroom-flavored commercially made pasta.

Fettuccine with Mushrooms: Fettuccine ai Funghi
Fettuccine in a tasty sauce with a variety of woodsy mushrooms, delicatley flavored with herbs.

Trofie with Zucchini and Mushrooms, Trofie con Zucchine e Funghi
Trofie are a traditional Ligurian pasta, 2-inch (5 cm) long thick twisted solid strands that are decidedly chewy, and which will work very well with chunky sauces such as this. The Italian recipe calls for a fresh porcino and chiodini, which may be difficult to find where you are. In their absence use different, flavorful wild mushrooms.

Cavatelli With Sausage & Chantarelles, Cavatelli Con Salsicce
This is a late summer-early fall pasta sauce, with rich wild mushrooms - chanterelles, though if you had to you could use other wild mushrooms, for example morels or oyster mushrooms - and hearty sausages to keep the first fall chills at bay, and bright tomato. A delightful combination!

Corkscrews with Chanterelles and Lentils -- Fusilli con Finferli e Lenticchie
Corkscrews with Chanterelles and Lentils, or Fusilli con Finferli e Lenticchie: Finferli, which are also known as gallinacci in Italy, and as Chanterelles in France, are yellow wild mushrooms with conical caps that open up, rather than down. They're richly flavored, and will do a fine job of balancing both lentils and pasta.

Pizzoccheri with Porcini, Savoy Cabbage, and Sage
Pizzoccheri with Porcini, Savoy Cabbage, and Sage, or Pizzoccheri con Porcini e Verza alla Salvia: Pizzoccheri are a classic pasta type from the Valtellina, up in the mountains of Lombardia, and consequently are ideally suited to mushrooms. If you cannot find pizzoccheri, use whole wheat tagliatelle.

Mezze Maniche with Porcini, Bread Crumbs, and Wild Fennel
Mezze Maniche with Porcini, Bread Crumbs, and Wild Fennel, or Mezze Maniche con Porcini, Mollica e Finocchietto: Mezze Maniche are similar to penne but shorter and broader; in their absence use rigatoni. The porcini should be fresh; if you cannot find them use portabello mushrooms. The combination of anchovies and mushrooms is typical of both Liguria and Lazio.

Orecchiette with Mushrooms -- Orecchiette con i Funghi
Orecchiette con i Funghi: An interesting Puglian variation on baked pasta, this recipe calls for porcini, but can be made with other wild mushrooms as well. It won't work well with champignons, because they aren't mushroomy enough.

Penne, Mushrooms & String Beans: Penne Funghi e Fagiolini
A tasty sauce with mushrooms, green beans, and some tomato to give them body.

Tagliatelle with Mushrooms and Sausages in a Clear Sauce
Mushrooms and sausages are a tasty combination!

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