Remember the many boxes of pasta I bought on sale a few weeks ago? Despite the fact that my mom makes linguine with olive oil, garlic and (ew) sardines for lunch almost every day, I still have a fairly full cupboard. I’m not a fan of pasta salads, and it’s really too warm for a heavy cream sauce, despite what my son Ken thinks, or a hearty meat ragu; I’m thinking therefore, along the lines of pasta primavera.
My fridge contained the following must-use-soon produce: green beans, shitake and cremini mushrooms. Not exactly pasta primavera, but I made it work! For my guys, I threw in some crispy bits of pancetta, which I always have in my freezer (thanks, Giada, for that tip), and for me and my mom, a good amount of garlic.
Surveying my pasta stores, I settled on a long noodle, fettuccine; it’s a bit thicker than pappardelle. I wanted a thicker noodle to complement the meat-like texture of the shitake. (If the long ribbons of malfadine with their curly edges had been present, I’d have used them for sure). The “sauce” is simple, prepared with the leftover pancetta fat and some pasta water, with a little butter and parmigiano thrown in for good measure. I drizzled my good olive oil over the dish at the end along with a few grindings of black pepper.
This is a light dish, easy to prepare; while you’re waiting for the water to boil to cook the pasta, you can chop all the ingredients and brown the pancetta. While the pasta cooks, you pull together the sauce. Experiment with other mushroom varieties and vegetables; the key is to cut everything the same size, as in stir-frying, to ensure even and quick cooking! It’s so easy, I made a salad, too!
Pasta with Mushrooms, Pancetta and Green Beans
- 1 lb of dried fettuccine, or your favorite shape
- 1 lb of mushrooms, cleaned, and sliced (I used a mix of shitake and cremini)
- 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2-inch slice of pancetta, small dice
- 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1/2 c water
- 1 – 2 TB unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups pasta water, reserved from pot before draining
- 1/3 c grated parmigiano
- salt and pepper to taste
- good olive oil for drizzling (my fave remains California Olive Ranch)
Get the pasta water on the burner to boil while you prepare the vegetables, garlic, and pancetta.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the diced pancetta. Sauté the pancetta until brown and crisp. Remove to a small bowl lined with paper towels.
In the same sauté pan, add the sliced garlic and fry until golden brown– watch closely to make sure it doesn’t burn!
Add the sliced mushrooms, coating them with the pancetta fat. (If needed, add a little of olive oil). Continue to sauté until the mushrooms begin to release their juices.
When the mushrooms have released most of their juices (the pan should not be bone dry), add the sliced green beans. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine everything, then add the 1/2 cup of water. Cover and let the beans simmer until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
When the pasta is done, ladle out the 1 1/2 cups of pasta water, then drain the noodles into a colander.
Once the green beans are crisp-tender, uncover the pan and stir in the butter. Add pasta water as needed to create a light sauce.
Add the drained fettuccine to the pan along with the reserved pancetta and mix well. The fettuccine will absorb the sauce, so add more pasta water as needed to keep the noodles loose and lightly coated. Add the grated parmigiano, toss again and taste for seasoning.
Drizzle with good olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with a salad and enjoy!