We’ve been looking out for Anna Del Conte’s Gastronomy of Italy for some time now. This is a book in serious need of reprinting – a true Italian bible. The recipe’s are straightforward and authentic and there is an excellent section on the regions of Italy. We snapped this up when at last a second-hand copy became available on Amazon and suggest you do the same if you get the chance.
This is a really nice dish for autumm – a bit like macaroni cheese but with mushrooms. There is no place for calorie counting here!
Baked Penne with Cheese and Mushrooms – to serve 4
- 20g dried porcini, soaked, drained and chopped
- 500g fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove
- 50g unsalted butter
- 300g penne
- butter for the dish
- 150g Bel Paese cheese, thinly sliced (we couldn’t find Bel Paese so substituted Taleggio)
- 150g fontina cheese, thinly sliced
- 75g freshly grated Parmesan
- 200ml double cream
Heat the oven to 200ºC/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Sauté the porcini and fresh mushrooms with the whole garlic clove in 25g of the butter over a high heat. Add salt and pepper, lower the heat and cook for 3 minutes. Throw away the garlic.
Cook the pasta according to the pack. Drain and dress with the remaining butter.
Butter an ovenproof dish and cover the bottom with layer of pasta. Spread about a quarter of the mushrooms and sliced cheese over the pasta and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan. Add another layer of pasta and cover with mushrooms and cheese. Repeat this until all the ingredients are used, finishing with a cheese layer. Pour over the cream and season with salt and pepper.
Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes, or until a light crust has formed on the top. Settle for 5 minutes before serving with a green salad.
Wine Suggestion: We drank a Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley in California that our friend Jen kindly brought back from her holidays. There are some great wines being made here that we rarely see outside the US so it was a treat and a really good match for the dish. If you haven’t been travelling we’d suggest finding a pinot noir with juicy, ripe fruit balanced by a lightness of touch – avoid anything too alcoholic or jammy which will overwhelm the food. If you find a nice “earthy” pinot from Hawkes Bay in New Zealand or Burgundy then you’re on the right track.