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IN THE KITCHEN

Laura's Penne Pasta With Pancetta, Porcini & Black Olives


A COMFORTING DISH FOR AN UNEASY TIME 

We’ve been on lockdown for a few weeks now in Italy and we’re starting to get somewhat used to our new “normal” of staying at home. We surely have our more positive days and those that are more challenging. 

Even though we are physically isolated, we’ve probably never been more connected to our friends and family all over the world. We pick up the phone more often for a chat, have video calls and have started to do Instagram Live videos. We’ve found that we are making more of an effort to connect and stay in touch with people, which might be one positive outcome at the end of this tragic time in the world.

We’re also experiencing moments of joy and comfort being in the kitchen. Trying out new recipes has been quite satisfying but it’s those dishes that we’ve cooked up and enjoyed more times that we can remember that are providing us with the most comfort. Cooking these dishes brings us back to happier times but also gives us something to look forward to; times when we can have a leisurely lunch with friends and family and share these dishes at a big beautiful table with a few bottles of vino.

Laura’s penne pasta with pancetta, porcini mushrooms and black olives is a rustic dish that easily falls into the category of comfort food for us. 

If you are not able to find dried porcini mushrooms, you can prepare the recipe without. It will have a different flavor but you can add a little peperoncino (red pepper) to give the pasta an extra kick. 

LAURA’S PENNE PASTA WITH PANCETTA, PORCINI MUSHROOMS & BLACK OLIVES
Serves 6
 
Ingredients
50 g cubed pancetta (1.76 oz) 
150 g black olives, no pits (5.29 oz, roughly 1 can)
30 g dried porcini mushrooms (1 oz) 
15 cherry tomatoes
1 garlic clove
Grated Parmigiano
Salt and pepper to taste
Butter as needed
Penne pasta

  1. Cook the cubed pancetta with the garlic (with the skin still on) in a large pan on low heat until the fat dissolves and the pancetta becomes crispy. Then remove the garlic clove. 
  2. Soak the dried mushrooms in warm water for 30 to 60 minutes until they are soft. Remove the mushrooms from the water, saving the water for later.
  3. Cut the mushrooms into small, uneven pieces with a scissor (Laura's preference vs. a knife). 
  4. Add the mushrooms to the pan with the pancetta and cook together at a medium heat. 
  5. Add the mushroom-infused water slowly and as necessary so the mushrooms do not burn or crisp up as they cook in the pan.
  6. Cut the olives and tomatoes in half and add to the pan with the mushrooms and pancetta and cook together.
  7. Continue to add the mushroom-infused water as necessary until the tomatoes are cooked fully and soft. Then add salt to taste and a good amount of pepper.
  8. Meanwhile, heat up the pasta water to a boil and add some of the mushroom-infused water and salt. Cook the pasta “al dente” and save the water.
  9. Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce and mix together. If the sauce needs thickening, add some of the pasta water. 
  10. Add a pat or two of butter to the pasta to add flavor and to help thicken the sauce even more.
  11. Serve the pasta with grated Parmigiano and fresh pepper.  

Our favorite wine to enjoy with this dish is our L’aura Chianti Classico. The acidity of our youthful Sangiovese-based wine and its well-integrated tannins compliment and can hold up to the acidity in this savory sauce. 

We wish you all happy cooking!

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay hopeful. 

 

 

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