Hearty Pasta alla Boscaiola

Hearty Pasta alla Boscaiola evokes rustic autumnal and wintry flavors of deep, earthy mushrooms, combined with bacon and herbs into a delicious creamy sauce for pasta. Il boscaiolo is the woodsman in Italian and la boscaiola is the woodsman’s wife, hence Hearty Pasta alla Bosciaola is prepared as the woodsman’s wife would have it.  There are many versions of Pasta alla Boscaiola, but of course, we are partial to ours.  We’ve made the recipe a bit more approachable by using baby bella and white mushrooms, both readily available in most supermarkets, and using dried Shiitake mushrooms to deepen the woodsy mushroom element of the dish; feel free to use more exotic wild mushrooms, if you like.  Similarly, we use tomato paste versus chopped fresh tomatoes or canned tomato puree; it’s doubtful the la boscaiola would have access to those products in the autumn and winter months, though she likely would have a supply of pomodoro passata stored away.  Hearty Pasta alla Boscaiola works well with a variety of pastas: pappardelle, linguine or mafalde (our favorite, pictured) or cut pastas, such as penne rigate.  Start with a simple Family-style Rustic Escarole Salad, then move on to Hearty Pasta alla Boscaiola, accompanied by a medium-bodied dry red wine like Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Pinot Noir or a red blend, and enjoy!

Hearty Pasta alla Boscaiola

Prep Time: 30 minutes, Cooking Time: 1 hour, Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.  Serves 4.

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  • 4 oz dried Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 2 cups very hot Water
  • 8 oz Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 8 oz White Mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped Onion
  • ½ Tb minced Garlic
  • 1/3 lb thick cut Bacon
  • 4 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided into 1 Tb and 3 Tbs
  • ¼ cup dry White Wine
  • 1 Bay Leaf, preferably fresh
  • 1 Tb fresh Oregano leaves
  • 1 Tb fresh Thyme leaves
  • 1 Tb fresh Rosemary leaves, minced
  • ¼ tsp coarse Sea Salt
  • ¼ tsp ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Tbs Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 3 oz Pasta per person
  • Combined Grated Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheeses at the table

Hearty Pasta alla Boscaiola


  1. Remove the stems from the dried Shiitake mushrooms and resuscitate the dried mushroom caps in a bowl by pouring very hot water over them just to cover. Once the mushrooms have softened, remove them from the water, gently pressing excess liquid from them, slice into thin strips and set aside in a bowl. Strain the mushroom-flavored water, discard the debris and reserve the liquid for use later in this recipe.
  2. Clean and trim the baby bella and white mushrooms, cutting them into very thin slices and adding them to the bowl with the sliced Shiitake mushrooms. Chop the onion, mince the garlic and combine in a separate bowl.
  3. Pour one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil into a deep, wide frying pan over a medium heat. Slice the bacon crosswise into thin batons or strips, add to the pan, fry until browned and semi-crisp then remove the cooked bacon to a separate bowl; this takes about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil the hot pan along with the onion and garlic, sauté uncovered until golden, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the combined sliced mushrooms to the pan, stir to mix and sauté uncovered over a medium-high heat, stirring until the mushrooms brown and all liquid has evaporated, about 25 minutes, see picture.
  6. Pour the white wine into the pan, stir through quickly to mix and deglaze.
  7. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente.
  8. Add the cooked bacon, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sea salt, black pepper, tomato paste and ¾ of the reserved mushroom-flavored water to the pan. Stir to mix and cook, uncovered, over a medium-high heat until the liquid volume has reduced significantly.
  9. Add the heavy cream, remaining reserved mushroom-flavored water to the pan, stir to mix and continue to cook, uncovered, until the sauce is very thick and creamy, as pictured. Turn the heat off the sauce, remove and discard the bay leaf, add the drained cooked pasta to the pan, stir to mix and serve Hearty Pasta all Boscaiola immediately, with combined grated parmesan and pecorino romano cheeses at the table.

Hearty Pasta alla Boscaiola

One response to “Hearty Pasta alla Boscaiola”

  1. Will Condon says:

    Vito, I’m going to make this recipe soon. It looks delicious. I may use mushroom ravioli for the pasta. I’ll let you know how it turns out.