Pasta alla Boscaiola (woodsman’s pasta)

Penne pasta alla Boscaiola

Penne pasta alla boscaiola in blue and white bowl

In Italian, the word ‘boscaiola’ means woodsman or woodcutter. And this pasta alla boscaiola recipe is traditionally based on the most popular foraged food to be found in the woods, mushrooms.  Most alla boscaiola recipes include porcini mushrooms. Porcini are the king of foraged mushrooms here in Italy and given their divine, unique flavour, it’s not surprising!

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penne pasta alla boscaiola ingredients on white plate

Other mushrooms such as chanterelles may also be included but, in reality, a pasta alla boscaiola without porcini isn’t really what it could be! Having said that, lots of Italians prepare it with other types of mushrooms if porcini aren’t available.

penne pasta alla boscaiola ingredients in white bowls

Dried porcini work well too!

This is a very easy and fast recipe, perfect in autumn when freshly picked mushrooms are available, but makeable all year round using dried or frozen porcini or other fresh mushrooms. If you use dried porcini don’t forget to soak them in some warm water for 20-30 minutes before making the sauce. Drain them well, but don’t throw the water away! You can add it to the sauce for a more intense porcini flavour!

penne pasta alla boscaiola sausage meat in frying pan

Different versions of pasta alla boscaiola

There isn’t actually a single standard recipe for Italian pasta alla boscaiola. There are many variations including with or without tomatoes or with cream instead or cream as well. Many people make this pasta dish with peas. And the meat can be sausage or pancetta.  The pasta is usually fresh pasta ribbons such as tagliatelle or penne.

penne pasta alla boscaiola sausage meat and mushrooms in frying pan

The pasta alla boscaiola recipe I followed is based on what many believe to be the original recipe but, in Italy, that can depend on which region you come from! Alla boscaiola is considered traditional in a number of regions including Campania, Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany. I made it with frozen porcini (fresh aren’t available now) tomatoes and sausage meat. I also added pioppini mushrooms which I love, even though they aren’t traditionally foraged. If you’d like to add peas, they’d go well with it too.

penne pasta alla boscaiola ingredients cooking in frying pan

Recipes with cream

Many Italians love the version with cream and no tomatoes (bianca), but of course this will make the dish taste more delicate and less robust, especially when using pancetta instead of sausage. The cream needs to be fresh and not long-life and it should be added at the end, when the sauce is ready.

penne pasta alla boscaiola sauce in frying pan

I adore sausage meat in pasta ragu and, needless to say, porcini are my favourite mushrooms. These two ingredients together make this sauce very flavourful and hearty. It’s definitely not an elegant dish, but there are times when that’s not what you are after! Most of the time, elegant can be saved for Michelin star restaurants and weddings!

Buon appetito!

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penne pasta alla boscaiola sauce and pasta in frying pan

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  • Avatar
    Brian Jones
    March 16, 2018 7:01 am

    Oh my this sounds delicious, I love porcini mushrooms although they are tough to find here even the dried type, although I always seem to manage to hunt them down. No matter the coast 😮 We do have access to a whole hst of wild shrooms though and our local market also has a shroom office where you can take your harvest and have them checked out… You know so you don’t die #eek

    • admin
      March 19, 2018 11:18 am

      Thanks so much Brian! I’m sure this recipe works well with other kinds of mushrooms, foraged or farmed. But of course porcini are what gives it its authentic taste! Can you not buy them online? I love the idea of the shroom office! I don’t think we have that here! My hubby’s pretty knowledgeable about wild mushrooms so we haven’t poisoned ourselves yet!! All the best Jacqui

  • Avatar
    March 16, 2018 12:24 am

    Beautiful ingredients! And I’m sure the aroma is just wonderful!

    • admin
      March 19, 2018 11:20 am

      Thanks Nicole, yes this pasta dish smells and tastes wonderful, especially when you use porcini! I hope you’ll try it out. Ciao from Italy! Jacqui

  • Avatar
    March 15, 2018 9:12 pm

    Looks like a lovely pasta dish! I would love to try with a meat alternative since I’m vegetarian 🙂 but I love mushrooms and pasta! Great job.

    • admin
      March 19, 2018 11:25 am

      Hi Amanda, thanks for your comment. Of course this recipe can be made without the sausage or perhaps with a vegetarian sausage. Certainly the mushrooms are what really give it the most flavour! You should try to make a vegetarian version! Jacqui

  • Avatar
    March 12, 2018 5:56 pm

    Mushrooms and Italian sausage are a favorite combination of mine. I love the simplicity of this recipe. Great idea using dried porcini mushrooms and rehydrating them, as they are sometimes hard to find. Dried ones are much easier to find in specialty shops.

    • admin
      March 14, 2018 12:04 pm

      Grazie Michelle! I agree the combo of mushrooms and sausage is super yummy, especially if the mushrooms are porcini! Here in Italy, people also make this dish with dried porcini, especially out of mushroom picking season! I also like frozen porcini but I know those are hard to find outside of Italy! All the best from Verona! Jacqui

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