Pasta alla Boscaiola is an Italian classic, eaten in Fall when the wild mushrooms grow abundantly in the Italian forests. It’s hearty and flavorful comfort food, with a creamy delicious sauce with all the flavors of fresh wild mushrooms and the savoriness of bacon.
Many people in Italy love to forage mushrooms themselves or at least know someone who does. It’s very common to receive a basket from a friend full of fresh wild mushrooms freshly foraged.
The most common and most loved mushroom is the Porcini mushroom. It has a very intense flavor and can be cooked in many ways. Thankfully, it’s also very easy to find dried Porcini mushrooms even outside of Italy so you can recreate many dishes, such as my Porcini mushroom Ravioli and my Pumpkin and Porcini mushroom Risotto.
Fresh mushrooms can be easily frozen but they’re always best when consumed fresh. Since they don’t last very long once foraged, it’s common to make a big mushroom feast to use up as many as possible. From mushroom Crostini to pasta, to fried mushrooms or sautèed with cream. There are so many delicious recipes to enjoy this fantastic product.
What is Boscaiola Sauce?
Boscaiola sauce, Boscaiola Pasta or Penne alla Boscaiola. It’s a typical Italian Fall comfort food. The term “Boscaiola” comes from “Boscaiolo”, which means woodcutter or lumberjack. So the literal translation of Boscaiola sauce would be “woodcutter’s sauce” or “woodcutter’s wife’s sauce”. The reason, of course, is because this sauce is always made with mushrooms, which is something the lumberjack would eat very often.
As for many Italian traditional recipes, there are several local variations of Boscaiola. Some only make it with mushrooms, while some also add bacon or sausage to add extra savoriness to the sauce. Some also add olives, sundried tomatoes, or peas.
The origins of this dish are in the mountains between Tuscany and Emilia Romagna, where the thick forests and perfect climate produce a large number of wild mushrooms.
The Boscaiola sauce is most commonly eaten with Penne pasta, but it can also be found with other pasta shapes or even used with meats like chicken or pork.
Which mushrooms are best for this recipe?
As mentioned above, there aren’t specific rules on how to make this sauce. In Italy, of course, Porcini mushroom would always be the star of any mushroom recipe, as it is our favorite one. Another very commonly used one is Finferli or Giallarelle, which is the Chantarelle mushroom.
You can use whichever mushroom you can find available in your area. In Fall, between September and October, you should find a greater variety of mushrooms.
If fresh mushrooms are not an option, then you can also use frozen ones. Do not thaw first otherwise they will lose all the flavorful water. Toss them directly in the sauce and cook it a bit longer than said in the recipe.
If you like this recipe, try also these other mushrooms recipes:
“Penne alla Boscaiola” – Pasta with Mushrooms and Bacon
- 6 oz Penne Pasta
- 0.5 oz Dried Porcini mushrooms, or 70 g (2.5 oz) fresh
- 1/2 Red Onion
- 4.5 oz Wild Mushrooms, mixed
- 5 oz Bacon, cubed
- 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
- 1/2 cup Cream
- Add the dried Porcini mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes or until the mushrooms are fully rehydrated.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
- Finely chop the onion and add it in a non-stick pan with the cubed bacon. Turn on the heat to medium and fry for 2-3 minutes. The bacon fat should be enough to sauté the onion, but you can add a drizzle of oil if necessary.
- Meanwhile, chop all the mushrooms and then add them to the pan. Add also the tomato paste to caramelize. Cook for 4-5 minutes. All the ingredients should caramelize together but not burn. Regulate the heat accordingly.
- Toss the pasta in the boiling water and cook according to the package instructions. Drain it 1-2 minutes before it’s ready to finish cooking in the sauce.
- Add the cream to the sauce and a few tablespoons of the Porcini water (filter it if necessary). Turn down the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
- Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the pan with the sauce to finish cooking and absorb all flavors. Add more Porcini water if necessary.
- Serve with freshly chopped parsley on top.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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