Among the people who have influenced my cooking are the fabulous staff at Lesley Stowe Fine Foods. Our team is very much a family, and we stop every day to have lunch together: to get the chance to sit down and talk, and – of course – to cook for each other. Our head pastry chef at the shop knew how to cook pasta the Italian way, and it was always a popular day when April was at the stove. This is my version of her most requested dish. Simple, delicious and comforting – a perfect mid-week supper!
serves 4 to 6
- 8 oz (225 g) pancetta, cut in ½ x ¼ inch (1.2 x .6 cm) strips
- 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
- 8 small cloves garlic, slivered lengthwise
- 4 small shallots, slivered lengthwise
- ½ tsp. (2.5 mL) finely chopped fresh rosemary
- ½ tsp. (2.5 mL) finely chopped fresh sage
- ¼ cup (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. (455 g) button mushrooms, sliced
- 4 cups (950 ml) tomato sauce
- large pinch chili flakes
- 1 lb (455 g) penne
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¾ cup (180 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cook the pancetta for 2-3 minutes in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) olive oil, garlic and shallots, sauté until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add the rosemary and sage. Add the 1/3 cup (60mL) olive oil and the mushrooms. Turn up the heat to medium-high and stir until the mushrooms are golden. Add the tomato sauce and chili flakes. Reduce the heat and keep warm.
In a pasta pot, bring 4 quarts (4 L) of water with the 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) of sea salt to a boil. Add the penne and cook until it’s almost al dente, 2-3 minutes. Drain, reserving ½ cup (120 mL) of the cooking water. Add the water to the sauce. Return pasta and sauce to the pasta pot and cook over medium heat until the pasta is a dente, 2 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper. Serve with Parmesan cheese.