When you are lucky enough to find incredible ingredients, with Tuscan cooking, you let them shine on their own. Fresh Porcini are the perfect example. They only grow on a hot day, after it rains, under chestnut and oak trees and you have to get them before they start to deteriorate and get worms inside! So, we have a short wonderful window of time to enjoy them.
At Friday's market in Colle Val D'Elsa where I now do my cooking classes, we found the first Tuscan Porcini of the season.
I like to teach the Tuscan techniques, rather than real recipes. Learning to cook.
The Tuscans have a simple way to cook vegetables that doubles as a light pasta sauce. The cooking technique is called trifolato. Thinly sliced vegetables, stewed slowly in olive oil and they form their own broth.
Simply Tuscan! Simply wonderful!
Here's my version:
Fresh Porcini Mushrooms.cleaned with damp paper towel. Slice caps,chop stem
1 garlic clove ( Italians use much less garlic that you think!)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Nepitella/Catmint ( or oregano).Nepitalla grows wild and has a soft mint-like flavor with hint of oregano.
Place garlic slices in oil and then heat; this prevents the garlic from burning.
Add chopped mushrooms and sprinkle with herbs.
Stir and salt to taste. The salt draws out the moisture from the vegetables and they stew in their own juices instead of just frying.
Splash with a little white wine to create a broth.
Cover and let cook over low heat until tender.
I like to purée half of the vegetables to form a creamy sauce.
Add a ladle of the cooking water from the pasta to the sauce.
Drain the pasta and then heat the pasta in the sauce.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and stir.
This way all the pasta is covered with sauce and the sauce clings to the pasta instead of sliding off!
This technique also works with zucchini and eggplant. I do the same with dried porcini, soaking them first in cold water, and then using them like fresh. To stretch the dried porcini, use button mushrooms too; they will absorb the porcini flavor.