No-Bacon-Necessary Pasta with Porcini Rosemary Tomato Sauce

Every so often, I think about my dog and the fact that I could never eat him. Then I think about how he looks like a piglet and how I do eat pigs by way of bacon. But if I do eat bacon and bacon comes from a pig aren’t I eating a version of my dog? Don’t worry, I’m not making a case for vegetarianism (though there’s certainly a case), I’m setting up a post about a porcini rosemary tomato sauce.

Hi, my name is Adam Roberts and I started this food blog almost twenty years ago (it’ll be exactly twenty years next year!) and I haven’t blogged on it for a long time. That’s because I found other outlets like Substack and podcasting and Instagram and TikTok and cookbooks to express myself food-wise. Then yesterday I had a revelation: nowhere, in the Amateur Gourmet metaverse is there anywhere to share recipes. Especially ones that you can print. And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what people want the most from food writers? Recipes? That they can print? “Maybe I should take the old food blog out for a spin,” I thought to myself. And here we are.

So what’s the deal with this pasta and why did it make my revive my ancient food blog?

Well recently I launched a new podcast called You’ve Got to Taste This and the premise is that I ask people to send me a recipe that they’re absolutely passionate about, I make it, and then we talk about it for an hour. My first guest was Noah Galuten, author of the brand new Don’t Panic Pantry Cookbook, based on the YouTube show he co-hosts with his wife, comedian Iliza Shlesinger. Here we are talking all about this surprising, game-changing recipe:

The original version calls for bacon but Noah made a vegetarian version with dried porcinis and he liked that version even more than the bacon version. And that’s the revelation that relaunched The Amateur Gourmet: dried porcinis, soaked for thirty minutes in hot water, can be sautéed with onions and garlic just like bacon and they caramelize and create a fond on the bottom of the pan. Then you add fresh rosemary — whole sprigs of it — and finally, you deglaze with white wine, and add that super potent porcini mushroom soaking liquid (aka: a magic, umami elixir). Scroll through the following to see the action shots:

The resulting pasta has such deep, profound flavor, it’s truly a “don’t miss the bacon” moment. And with the new year and everything, eating less meat is kind of a good resolution? Not just for the animals, but for the environment? Hey, don’t do it for me, do it for your dog.

And now for the recipe. Welcome back, blog friends.

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Pasta with Porcini Rosemary Tomato Sauce

A deceptively simple pasta sauce featuring dried porcinis and fresh rosemary from Noah Galuten’s new “Don’t Panic Pantry Cookbook.”
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1/2 ounce dried mushrooms (I like porcinis for this)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Pinch crushed red pepper (more if you like it spicy)
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary (you want the fresh stuff here!)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (whatever you’re drinking)
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound dried pasta
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino (I used Pecorino)
  • Your nicest olive oil, for drizzling

Instructions

  • Start by soaking the dried mushrooms in a small bowl or measuring cup with 1/2 cup of warm water until fully softened, about thirty minutes. Reserving the porcini liquid, scoop up the mushrooms, transfer them to a cutting board, and finely chop them.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta and season with enough salt so that it tastes like a good soup (but not the ocean, that’s too salty).
  • In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Sauté until the onions are just wilted. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the chopped mushrooms, and saute until the onions start to brown a bit — about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the crushed red pepper and rosemary sprigs, stir, and toast for 30 seconds. Add the white wine and reserved mushroom soaking liquid (leave behind any sediment at the bottom) and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze any brown bits (that’s where all the flavor comes from). Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and stir. Once it’s bubbling, lower heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for ten minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook the pasta: add it it to the boiling water and cook it one minute less than package directions.
  • To finish, use a spider tool to lift the pasta directly into the pan with the sauce. Increase heat to a steady simmer and stir constantly, adding a ladleful of pasta water as necessary to get a sauce that fully coats the pasta without being soupy or overly dry. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  • Serve right away in pasta bowls, drizzled with olive oil, and topped with lots of cheese.

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