Pasta with Truffle Mascarpone Cream Sauce

Italian truffles, worth their weight in culinary gold, are highly coveted and sought out to take an ordinary recipe to superb new heights. Tartufo, as they are called in Italy, have an unmistakable earthy flavor and intoxicating aroma.

Italy is one of the world’s main truffle producers. They are found in forests throughout northern Piedmont and central parts of Tuscany as well as Umbria and Le Marche, growing beneath various tree species, such as willow, poplar, hazelnut and oak.

Truffles are still harvested using traditional methods. Growing underground close to tree roots and in rocky areas, truffles cannot be farmed or cultivated. Although they are fungi related to mushrooms, they never break the surface. So, you need a discerning nose to find them. These specially trained animals, usually dogs or pigs, literally sniff them out,

Italian truffles, depending on the variety, can be ridiculously expensive, costing thousands of dollars per pound and quite perishable. So, I use truffle oil.

Truffle oil is extra-virgin olive oil infused with fresh truffles. Since it’s shelf-stable and much less expensive than fresh truffles, it’s an affordable way to enhance a dish with the taste of fresh truffles.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons truffle olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone
  • 1/3 cup half & half
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  • 6 ounces pappardelle pasta
  • Truffle salt, a pinch
  • Parmigiana cheese, grated
  1. Using a large sauté pan, heat the truffle olive oil and butter until butter melts, add shallots, sauté until tender and translucent. Add mushrooms, cook until tender.
  2. Add white wine, simmer 4-5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the mascarpone and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Add the parsley. Reduce heat to low.
  4. Cook pasta (reserve 1/2 cup pasta water). Drain and add pasta to sauce. Toss well and add a bit of pasta water as needed for desired consistency.
  5. To serve, place pasta in shallow bowls, sparingly sprinkle with truffle salt. Top with grated Parmigiana.
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