Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Paglia e Fieno - Straw and Hay Pasta with Peas & Porcini for MLLA 26 & PPN 179

 Straw and Hay Pasta

Vacation mode.  I'm sure you know that delicious mood I am talking about. Though one has returned to the regularly scheduled program of life, there are a few transitional days between the limp relaxation of being away from it all and the rigors of reacquaintance with the adrenaline rush.  You are protected by a cocoon of your own making. Nothing bothers you.  Not even the mangled mess of fettuccine seizing up on the platter before you, wrecking your plans to post an otherwise pretty darned good meal by its due date.  The world is a beautiful place.  Rather than shake your fist at the heavens and mutter enough blue words to make you blue in the face, you shrug and try it all over again.  And you give thanks - thanks to Simona, hostess of MLLA 26, for the tutelage to avoid another mess. This time, my meal is a mermaid's nest of relaxed and lovely noodles, obviously, in their vacation mode, too.
Straw and Hay Pasta – My own vegetarian recipe using porcini to replace the traditional pancetta

Serves 4-6


1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups half and half or light cream
4 dried bay leaves
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup dried porcini pieces, reconstituted for ½ hour in 2 cups boiling water. (Reserve flavorful broth for other use.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons coarsely ground sea salt

12 ounces dried spinach fettuccine
12 ounces dried semolina fettuccine

2 generous cups fresh or frozen green peas, cooked in a small container of water in the microwave for 3 minutes and reserved in its cooking water to keep warm.
1 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra at table


Fill a very large pot, Dutch oven, or soup cauldron with enough water to boil the pasta. In order to prevent the pasta sticking to itself, it is critical that your vessel be large enough to accommodate the pasta with ample water to completely submerge it. It is better to use two vessels rather than cramp the pasta. Bring water to boil over high heat.

As water is heating, prepare the cream sauce. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, cook the onion and garlic in butter and olive oil until translucent and golden. Do not let the vegetables burn. Stir in half and half or light cream, then add bay leaves and ground black pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Slice porcini into slivers. Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat until oil thins (5 seconds). Add porcini and stir fry until glistening and frizzled. Remove from heat and toss porcini with sea salt.

Follow cooking time instructions on pasta packaging. Add fettuccine to boiling water. Increase heat slightly to return water to boil; maintain boil throughout cooking time. Pasta will begin to soften about 1 minute from commencing. Gently and frequently agitate pasta with a long-handled fork or chopstick to prevent sticking. Vigilant attention to the boil and agitation will ensure a good texture. Promptly remove from heat and carefully tip pasta into a colander to drain, allowing a little water to remain on it.

Working quickly, empty drained pasta into very large bowl. Pour cream sauce on top of pasta. Discard bay leaves. Toss gently to cover pasta with sauce. Transfer to serving platter or divide into individual bowls. Drain the peas. Top with Parmesan, fried porcini, and peas. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan on the side. --

This recipe is for Simona of Briciole, hosting MLLA 26.  Simona will have the round-up (in two parts) on line very soon.  Please stop by to have a look at yet another colossal collection of some of the best legume recipes under the sun.  And stay tuned for my announcement for MLLA 27,  hosted here by yours truly for September.  It's good to be back - I am raring to go.  I do hope you have all enjoyed your August.

I am also sending this to Ruth of Once Upon a Feast, hosting her own Presto Pasta Nights # 179.  Check out Ruth's round-up this Friday, September 3.

Been There, Done That ~
Potage Saint-Germain
Farfalle Alfredo with Grilled Vegetables
Spiced Vegetable Bean Fritters

Other People's Eats ~
Quinoa - Pea Salad - When My Soup Came Alive
Rice and Peas - Saveur
Vellutata di Piselli e Menta - Cindystar


  1. Replacing pancetta with porcini is a great idea! And I'm so glad you persevered, using your vacation calm, to bring us this dish that's delightful to the eyes and (I can just imagine) the taste buds.

  2. The pasta looks beautiful. I am glad the second attempt was successful. Love the sauce, too, with porcini and peas. It was an honor and a great pleasure to host the event this month.

  3. That dish is mouthwatering! Whhat a lovely combination.



  4. pastas are my favorite....your version looks yummy

  5. Thats such a gorgeous looking dish! Great click!

  6. What a delicious contribution to this months lineup Susan. I will go back and reread the tips for not creating a clumped up pasta mess in my own kitchen.

  7. Porcini has always sounded porky to me, though I know it's the pancetta that's porcine! :-D

    The dish even looks slightly Oriental, but you know where I'm coming from, pun fully intended!

  8. Strepitosa questa pasta, che armonia di gusti! Complimenti!!!!

  9. I love every ingredient in this, Susan. And, as usual, your photo makes the final product look absolutely mouth-watering!

  10. lovely... :)
    I got here when i was looking for who is hosting MLLA 27... Can I send you my recipe already? please let me know

  11. Ohh yeah its you :) just read the entire post now :) happy hosting

  12. Truly a pasta worthy of its name. It's gorgeous and I love your blog. Thanks for sharing this dish with Presto Pasta Night...Perfect!

  13. I have to get my Italian-everything-loving middle daughter away from lasagna - do not feel like making it every week! The pasta with no meat might not appeal to Husband, but the girls rule.
    It looks like a great combination of flavors at work. Besides, fast, easy, and affordable as well.
    Thanks for the inspiration!
    Looking forward to the next round of MLLA.

  14. Vacation mode is always hard to shake. I'm having a hard time doing now as I'm sitting here trying to study for a neuroanatomy test next week. Fun. Not as fun as this pasta, though. The photo is gorgeous! Paglia e fieno is one of my favorite dishes.

  15. This looks great, and is a pasta combination I've never tried. Can't wait to put some hay and straw together.

  16. Xiaolu - Thank you. I often use mushrooms to replace meat. Vacation seems a long time ago. : S

    Thank you, Simona. I'm so glad you enjoyed hosting MLLA.

    Rosa - Thanks!

    Hello, Neha! Thanks so much. Good to see you!

    Hi, Rachana. Thanks!

    Val - Thanks. Fettuccini is the only pasta I gunk up; I never have problems with any other shape, not even delicate angel hair. Go figure!

    Sra - LOL! That pun's a corker (not porker)!

    Ciao Speedy70 - Grazie mille! Lei è molto gentile.

    Hi, Toni! Thanks so much. Good to see you.

    Anu - Thank you. I've gotten your recipe. Glad to have you on board this month.

    Thanks, Ruth! I was happy to join in PPN.

    Lana - Thank you. Lasagna is a great dish, probably my own husband's favorite, but it is quite labor intensive. I'll usually bake up more than one tray, freezing the others. It's even more work up front, but nothing to do but make a salad while it reheats in oven.

    Thanks, Joanne! I'm sure you've aced your test, mellow gray cells notwithstanding. : }

    Hi, Claudia. Good to see you! Hay and Straw is a lovely and simple classic Italian dish. I hope you enjoy it.

  17. Pasta looks great. Thanks for the comment Susan. It made my race in a different direction and I made something else with green tomatoes today. Knowing my patience level, you know it will be up on the blog in a day or two.

  18. Susan,
    I posted the dish that was inspired by your comment.

  19. Every ingredient in this dish is so awesome! I definitely love it. Thanks a lot for sharing.