Or maybe the food is just really good there.
One dish that stuck in my memory was a pasta with mushrooms that I had our last evening in the city. Nice mushrooms in a creamy sauce with a perfectly cooked al dente pasta. It was a first course, followed by some veal with asparagus. Awww..it was a tasty night.
So since I have been back, I have looked around for a recipe to try and duplicate it, without much success. Until I happened upon this recipe from my dear friends (OK, it is a one sided friendship) at America's Test Kitchen. Not too complex, yet with interesting flavors. So, I had to give it a try and see if it would live up to Venice.
Pasta with Mushrooms, Pancetta, and Sage
Serves 4 as main course, 6 to 8 as side dish.
Why this recipe works: For a weeknight pasta and mushrooms recipe with a woodsy, full flavor, we used a combination of mushrooms—cremini for their rich, meaty nature and shiitake for their hearty flavor and chewy texture. Cooking the mushrooms with salt released their juices and enhanced browning. We finished our mushroom pasta recipe by adding garlic, shallots, and sage to round out the flavors in a simple sauce of chicken broth, heavy cream, and lemon juice.
So that the sauce and pasta finish cooking at the same time, drop the pasta into boiling water after adding the cremini to the skillet.
• 4 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
• 3–4 large shallots , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
• 3medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
• 10 ounces shiitake mushrooms , stems discarded, caps wiped clean and sliced 1/4 inch thick
• 10 ounces cremini mushrooms , wiped clean and sliced 1/4 inch thick
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves , plus 1 additional teaspoon
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice from one lemon
• Ground black pepper
• 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil, covered, in stockpot; add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until just shy of al dente. Drain and return pasta to stockpot.
2. Meanwhile, cook pancetta in 2 tablespoons olive oil, stirring occasionally until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper-towel lined plate. Add shallots to fat remaining in skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Increase heat to medium-high; add shiitakes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add cremini mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in sage and cook 30 seconds. Transfer mushrooms to bowl. Add broth to skillet and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits; off heat, stir in cream, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.3. Add mushrooms, pancetta, broth mixture, cheese, and parsley to pasta in stockpot. Toss over medium-low heat until pasta absorbs most of liquid, about 2 minutes; serve immediately.
Was it as good? Well, it was very darn good and pretty fast and easy. Not the most inexpensive recipe because those mushrooms can be a bit expensive at my local supermarket, but I do love mushrooms!
And while the original Venice dish did not have pancetta as far as I can remember, I am of the opinion that almost every recipe can only be made better with the addition of a crispy pork product.
Also while the original pasta was fettuccine, I rather like the cute little campanelle, not a shape I was familiar with. Sage is a nice addition too, again not in the Venice dish that I noticed.
But I missed the white tablecloths, the wandering musicians and the canal with all those boats.
This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.