Orecchiette with Mushroom Sauce


Makes 6 first course servings.

Makes 4 main course servings. 

I love the flavor and aroma of fresh wild mushrooms, but they are not easily available. To approximate that flavor, I have combined dried imported Italian mushrooms with fresh cultivated ones. There is a bit of chopping which I do, step by step, in a food processor fitted with the steel blade.


  • ¾ ounces dried imported porcini mushrooms

  • ¾ cup boiling water

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 shallots

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 1 pound firm white cultivated mushrooms

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, approx.

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • I cup tightly packed basil leaves, torn into small pieces

  • 1 cup tightly packed flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped 

  • 1 pound imported orecchiette   

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt


  1. Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and pour boiling water over them. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Strain the soaking liquid through a fine sieve, squeezing mushrooms over the sieve to extract more liquid (if you do not have a fine mesh sieve, line your sieve with paper towel). Set aside.

  2. Wash the mushrooms carefully to remove sand, chop coarsely and set aside. 

  3. Quarter the shallots and garlic and chop finely in a food processor. 

  4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan and sauté the shallots/garlic for about 3 minutes. 

  5. Wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel, quarter them and chop coarsely in a food processor, do it in 3 batches.  

  6. Add the rest of the oil to the saucepan and ALL the mushrooms. Stir over high heat until the mushrooms are beginning to exude liquid.

  7. Add the mushroom liquid, basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Boil for a few minutes. 

  8. In a large pot bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta and stir. Boil briskly, uncovered, about 8 minutes, until the pasta is very al dente. It will continue cooking when combined with the sauce.  

  9. Drain well and toss with the sauce and add parsley.

  10. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper.