Creamy Porcini Pasta

This is another scrumptious recipe inspired by our honeymoon trip to Florence. Everywhere we went in the city (but especially in the huge bustling Mercato Centrale) there were great baskets of porcini mushrooms for sale, so cheaply that I couldn’t resist buying a big bag to bring home. This is my attempt to recreate a delicious bowl of pasta that I had on the first night, using the soaking juices from rehydrating the mushrooms to make a silky roux. The addition of a tiny smidgeon of tomato adds a sweet tanginess to the deep earthy flavour of the porcini.


1 small onion
1 clove of garlic
40g butter, plus extra for frying
Olive oil
About 100g dried porcini mushrooms
40g plain flour
A splash of milk
1 firm tomato
A sprinkle of dried thyme
Dried pasta, to serve
Parmesan, to serve

Serves 2

Begin by soaking the porcini mushrooms to rehydrate them – place in a jug with about half a litre of water, and leave for at least half an hour.

Next, peel the onion and garlic, and chop as finely as you can. Melt a good scoop of butter in a saucepan and add the onion, garlic, and a splash of olive oil. Keep the heat low, so that the onion softens slowly, rather than crisping up.

Once the onion has become soft and translucent, you can start making the roux – add 40g of butter and allow to melt, then pour in the flour and stir well until it forms a thick paste with the butter, onions and garlic. The paste should come together smoothly without leaving any melted butter behind. Keep stirring for a couple of minutes to cook out the taste of the flour. Finally, add a splash of milk and 290ml of the porcini soaking liquid, and stir well until you get a nice silky sauce with no lumps.

Now’s a good time to put your pasta on – I think sauces like this are best with spaghetti or linguini. Cook according to the instructions on the packet.

While the pasta’s cooking, slice open the tomato and scoop out the seeds and liquid – you can discard these, as they’d just water down the sauce. Finely chop the remaining tomato and add to the roux with the rehydrated porcini. Season with salt and a sprinkle of dried thyme, and then turn the heat down and keep an eye on the sauce – you can always add another splash of the porcini liquid if it looks a bit dry.

When the pasta is ready, drain it and add to the pan with the sauce. Give it a really good mix and then serve with a sprinkling of parmesan.