Pasta alla boscaiola.

My brother, Bill, spent several years teaching at a culinary school in Tuscany (the lucky dog). He introduced us to this incredibly simple yet intensely flavorful pasta recipe during his stint at Toscana Saporita. I didn’t realize until recently that the sauce is called boscaiola, which refers to its woodsy, mushroomy flavor.

This pasta sauce is so incredibly easy that I make sure I have the few ingredients on hand all the time so I can throw this together in a hurry for a hearty and satisfying weeknight dinner. It’s one of our go-to recipes during the winter.

pasta alla boscaiola

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
1/2 cup whipping cream
8 ounces dried pasta of your choice
grated Parmesan for serving

Place dried porcini in a glass bowl or 2-cup measuring cup; add boiling water to cover. Let sit 20 minutes until softened. Drain mushrooms and coarsely chop; reserve the soaking liquid, pour through a fine strainer and set aside. Meanwhile, open the can of tomatoes and remove the whole tomatoes, smushing them with your hands to break them up; place in a bowl and reserve tomato juice.

In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat; reduce heat slightly and add garlic. Sauté for 1 minute until fragrant. Add chopped mushrooms and cook for another minute. Add smushed tomatoes and tomato juice. Season with salt. Cook over medium heat so sauce bubbles and begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Add cream; taste and season with salt and pepper. Cook another 5 minutes until sauce thickens nicely.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain, reserving a bit of cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot, add half of sauce and toss to coat. Dish into serving bowls and top with additional sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.