Little time and a big hunger – Malloredus pasta with wild mushroom ragù
Poco tempo e tanta fame – Malloredus con sugo ai funghi di bosco
When you have no time for cooking, this would be a dish to consider…of course if you have some wild mushrooms handy, even better. I had those beautiful yellow chanterelles and oyster mushrooms in my refrigerator with so many ideas on what to make with them, the only problem was the time. Today I didn’t have any for cooking elaborated dish, so I decided to make pasta, but not regular pasta, Malloredus. Malloredus are also called Sardinian gnocchi and are the most traditional pasta in Sardinia; its origin is traced back to Antiquity. You can make them by hand, and again if you have no time like me today, you can always have some handy at home (I always keep a bag in case I have some cravings for them)… and if you have an Italian grocery store close by, I’m sure you’ll find Malloredus. They are cute, and look like little worms or shells (yes a little worm can be cute). The particularity of Malloredus is that the remain crunchy, much more al dente that other pasta (and for me the more al dente, the better).
I usually use pancetta in the ragù, if you want to keep vegetarian, just don’t add it. Also, you need to use either canned Italian plum tomatoes, San Marziano fresh tomatoes, or really sweet organic plum and ripe tomatoes, or even heirloom otherwise your ragù might be too acid.
Fall is here, and fall is all about wild mushrooms. In my family, it is a BIG deal. Every year at this time, my dad goes mushroom picking, mainly porcini, but other kinds as well. Last year I was there around this time, and every morning, he would get up at 5 am, come back at 11 am with kilos of porcini. In about 3 weeks, he brought home about 70 kg of porcini (140 lb) can you imagine? My mom and I spent days cleaning them, and storing them (preserves, frozen, drying, etc…) at one point, I could not stand them any longer. We were just wondering between ourselves when he would stop bringing them home. I had porcini nightmares. Needless to say my parents house is filled with porcini. My dad used to go find truffles too, and had a dog trained for that purpose, now the dog ran away, so no more truffles! He grew up in Italy doing that, so he kept his hobbies all his life.
I remember one year, I was living in Boston and my parents came to visit us…it was their first trip to America. We took them to the New England countryside, and we ended up in Maine, there were beautiful mansions close by and a nice green field, so my dad had his mushroom radar out, and obviously saw some eatable mushrooms in between the grass, he was so excited. Happily, he started picking those mushroom to make a frittata in the evening. All of the sudden, we heard a voice coming from behind telling him “Hey dude, you won’t get high with those!”, seems like those guys thought we were looking for the hallucinogen ones. We were speechless (my parents didn’t speak English so they could care less), but I didn’t know what to respond since I was not expecting that, so we just nodded and smiled. Macche’ high!! io mi mangio la frittata stasera!
In France and Italy, it’s a very common thing to go mushroom picking, I used to go too but not getting up at 5 am. There are so many wonderful wild mushrooms (don’t know right names in English) and if you have doubts about them being comestible, (some of them can be mistaken for poisonous ones like the very well known Amanite Phalloide), you can always go to the pharmacy to have them checked. Pharmacies do that.
Ingredients for 4
- 300 g Malloredus pasta
- 1 lb mixed wild mushrooms such as chanterelles, girolles, porcini, etc…
- 2 cups Italian plum tomatoes, or 4 heirloom tomatoes, or San Marziano (put through a food processor)
- 3 tbs pancetta, chopped (optional)
- 2 tbs parsley
- 2 garlic cloves
- a pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- Parmigiano Reggiano
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbs olive oil
Was mushrooms thoroughly, pat dry and cut in pieces. Sauté them in olive oil. When browned remove from pan and set aside.
In the same pan, add pancetta, stir for a little while, then add garlic and parsley. Stir well to get the flavors out but make sure not to burn the garlic. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook until the sauce reduces for about 20 minutes or more. Add mushrooms and cook for another 10 minutes. (If using dried porcini, you can use the water and add it to the tomato sauce and let it cook).
Cook Malloredus like regular pasta until desired consistency. Top with tomato ragu and sprinkle with parmigiano and a little of olive oil.
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