Short fusilli bucati with gorgonzola, pancetta and mushrooms.
Fusilli bucati corti con Gorgonzola, pancetta e funghi.
When it comes to favourite foods, needless to say, I have many! But the combo of bacon, cheese and mushrooms has been a particular favourite of mine since childhood! I’m sure a few of you share this preference with me! Pasta is, of course, a fantastic medium for creating dishes with those ingredients! So, when I recently bought a box of short fusilli bucati corti (short hollow fusilli), I decided not to follow one particular recipe but to put something together using my favourite combo and ideas from a number of similar Northern Italian recipes. Bacon,cheese and mushrooms are very popular additions to many pasta recipes in the North of Italy.
One of the best cheeses for pasta sauces is, if you like it, gorgonzola. I love it, so this is the cheese I decided to use. Gorgonzola is a popular Italian blue cheese (Italians actually call blue cheese ‘verde’ meaning green!) which comes from Northern Italy and is made from un-skimmed cow’s milk to which Penicillium Roquefort has been added. The cheese is then aged for 3-4 months. The older it is, the firmer it becomes. Italian cheese shops and supermarkets normally sell different kinds of gorgonzola; dolce (meaning sweet), which is creamier and generally younger, or ‘piccante’ (meaning spicy), which is firmer and more crumbly.
Gorgonzola is very popular in Northern Italy and frequently used in pasta dishes made with gnocchi or short pasta like this short fusilli bucati (meaning fusilli with a hole) or penne or rigatoni, in risottos and on pizza. If you have 4 cheeses (quattro formaggi) pizza in Italy, one of those cheeses will be gorgonzola.
Italians don’t really eat bacon as it’s eaten in UK and USA. What they mostly use is pancetta and that is the second main ingredient in this pasta dish. Pancetta is made from pork belly which has been salted and cured. There are two types of pancetta here in Italy; rolled or in a slab. Italians often eat the rolled type like salami or ham as slices in sandwiches or as part of a cold cuts starter. A slab of pancetta is actually like a thin brick and this is often cut into cubes or thick slices for cooking.
I would have loved to use wild mushrooms in this short fusilli bucati recipe, but we’ve had quite a dry few weeks and there aren’t any wild mushrooms around. Of course, wild mushrooms, especially Porcini, are a common ingredient in many Italian dishes and if I’d had some, I definitely would have used them. Personally, I don’t really like using dried mushrooms as they have a much stronger taste than the fresh ones. So, I choose to use cultivated mushrooms.
Criminis and Pioppini mushrooms.
First, I decided on criminis or baby portobello mushrooms because they have a better flavour than the younger white button mushrooms and stay firmer when cooked.The second mushroom I used was Pioppini, also known as Black Poplar mushrooms or Willow mushrooms. These cute looking small long stemmed mushrooms have quite a rich, earthy taste and are very popular here in ‘pasta con funghi’ recipes.
Pioppini are also very high in fibre and are a great source of a number of nutrients and vitamins. I choose to make this dish with these two mushrooms but I think it can be made with others too. Just use your favourites!
An easy sauce to make!
This sauce is easy to make because none of the ingredients need very long to cook and you just cook them all more or less together in the same pan. After having made the sauce and cooked the pasta almost al dente, I just mixed the two together and baked it in the oven until the top layer of pasta started to get crispy! However, you can also serve this short fusilli bucati dish without baking. Just cook the pasta as normal until al dente, drain, mix with the sauce and serve with some grated Parmesan or grana.
There’s nothing like a good baked pasta on a cold day or when you’re really hungry! Don’t you think? I guess that’s why I chose to bake this dish. But, whichever way you eat it, I’m sure you’ll love it. Do let me know how it turns out. You can comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page. I’d love to hear from you!
(see the recipe on the next page. Just scroll down and click 2)