Tagliarini is an egg pasta from Northern Italy, similar to its wider and more famous cousin, tagliatelle (the name comes from the verb tagliare, to cut).
These thin, flat ribbons are often served with butter and truffles, but Mario prefers the earthy notes supplied by the porcini mushrooms and sage. If you can’t find tagliarini, feel free to substitute tagliatelle or fettuccine.
Note that unlike many other kinds of pasta, tagliarini cooks extremely quickly-in three or four minutes for dried; one or two minutes for fresh.
Porcini means “little pigs” in Italian, and is their name for the sumptuous mushroom known as the “king bolete” in the U.S. and as cèpes in France. You can substitute dried porcini for this recipe (soak them in boiling water for twenty minutes before using), or use crimini, those small, brown button mushrooms instead if you can’t find porcini.
This recipe is excerpted from Death al Fresco: A Sally Solari Mystery.
- 1/4 lb. (1 stick) butter
- 1/2 cup sage leaves, coarsely chopped if large
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb. porcini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 lb. tagliarini pasta
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 cup grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan over low heat. Continue cooking, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the foam subsides and the butter begins to turn brown-about five minutes. (Watch carefully, as it can burn quickly.)
- 2 Add the sage leaves and stir, and continue to cook another five minutes or so. Once the butter starts to release a nutty aroma and the sage becomes crisp, the sauce is done. Take the pan off the heat and set aside.
- 3 In a separate large frying pan, heat half the olive oil over medium heat and when shimmering, add half the mushrooms. Spread them out in one layer and let sit without stirring until they turn a golden brown. Then stir and cook another minute or two, till cooked through.
- 4 Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and repeat with the rest of the oil and mushrooms. Return the cooked mushrooms to the pan and set aside. (The brown butter/sage and the mushrooms can be prepared up to several hours in advance.)
- 5 Bring a large (at least 4 quart) pot of water to a boil.
- 6 Add the tagliarini and salt to the boiling water, and cook over high heat until al dente (still slightly firm in the center, 3-4 minutes if dried), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. (If using dried fettuccine, it will take 10-12 minutes to cook).
- 7 While the pasta is cooking, reheat the brown butter/sage and the mushrooms over medium heat.
- 8 Drain pasta and dump into a large serving bowl (without rinsing). Add the brown butter/sage and toss, then add mushrooms and half the cheese and toss again. Add salt to taste.
- 9 Serve garnished with the rest of the grated cheese, a few fresh sage leaves, and freshly-ground black pepper.