We have almost made it to the end of the year, and we are well and truly in the big run up to Christmas. It's a hectic time. Shopping needs to be done, plans made for the big day, presents to be wrapped. Some of us who still bother to send Christmas cards have to get them written out and sent in good time. Then there's the Christmas party season, work shingdigs with employers old and new, the spouse's work party that you HAVE to go to, the overdue catch up with friends "before the New Year starts". It's easy to fall into the takeaway and microwave meal pattern of evening dinners when life is so chaotic.
What I have here is a simple dish which is relatively quick to make. It is warming and rich. Although I dislike Autumn and Winter weather, something I put down to feeling the cold very intensely, the food of the late seasons I enjoy very much. And I love cooking them as much as I enjoy eating them. Winter calls for comfort food, and this is comforting and satisfying.
This is food which should reassure and relieve the lack of sunshine and complete lack warmth of the season, providing the necessary "central heating" for the body when not indoors.
Pasta provides the base to many simple dishes for post-work suppers. The immense versatility of pasta, its ease of cooking make it perfect for quick and easy dinners. It is also perfect for Wintry dishes, whether served with a simple sauce or baked into a sumptuous, hot, bubbling comfort dish made in heaven!
My "Woodland Pasta" is inspired by the Italian dishes Pasta di Bosco (pasta of the forest) and Spaghetti di profumo di bosco (spaghetti with the smell of the woods). The common thread between these dishes being mushrooms, raw pork or ham and cream. Mine is luxuriant and indulgent through the addition of beautiful and fragrant fresh herbs, grated parmesan cheese (for extra rich umami flavours) and truffle oil for richness.
This is a simple dish, despite the list of ingredients, and as long as you soak the porcini as soon as you get in from work, is a very achievable worknight supper dish.
Serves 3 people (or 2 very hungry/greedy people)
350g Minced pork
5g Dried Porcini mushrooms
3 Chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced
200ml White wine
150ml Double cream
3 cloves Garlic, very finely diced
1.5-2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
3 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
5 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
150g pasta (I used De Cecco fusilli)
You need to rehydrate the porcini first. In a large mug, soak the porcini in boiling water for at least 20 minutes to half an hour.
Put a large pan of unsalted water onto the heat for cooking the pasta.
Drain the soaked porcini and chop finely.
Cook your pasta in boiling water until al dente. In the meantime, you will need to work on the steps below.
In a non-stick frying pan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and mix for one minute.
Add the rosemary, sage, porcini and chestnut mushrooms. Stir occasionally and cook for 5 minutes.
Heat pan, and fry the pork until it has changed colour. Drain away excess liquid.
Put the mushroom mixture and pork back into the pan.
Now add the double cream, continue cooking for about 5 or so minutes, as you are trying to get the sauce to thicken a little.
Mix the pasta with the sauce, combining thoroughly.
Serve up into bowls.
Top with a drizzle of truffle oil, adding as much as your taste prefers. Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese on top.