A Vegan Baked Boscaiola Pasta (Peas, Mushroom & Truffle) for Earthsprout

October tinges this land of warm, watercolor-like hues.
This unexpected, but welcome, pleasant sunny weather delays dreams of cozy afternoons spent indoors, like a sleepy snooze to our fall alarm clocks. Time stands still like the oak leaves that a re surrendering to the season – their colors yellowing, in a fashion similar to that of people’s hair when they turn gray.As those leaves try to clasp onto the branches with their last breath of life, we enjoy making plans on how to use up the last droplets of sunlight.

But the air is indeed getting chillier, and we gladly turn on our ovens, ready to embrace new harvests and dust off our fall recipes as we would do for a seasonal wardrobe change.

In the Marche region’s inland,which thrives with products of the cold months, the hunt for truffles and porcini mushrooms started October 1st. Festivals dedicated to these gifts of nature start to take place, and the faint sunlight filtering through the misty woods on the Montefeltro area is the background of a season that does not even seem that cold, after all.

And now, let us imagine mushroom and truffle hunters offering their bountiful finds to lovely Elenore from Earthsprout, who kindly asked me to take part in her awesome blog!
I decided to make this pasta to celebrate a real Italian sunday meal, but with a vegan twist. It is rich, but all the ingredients are nice and clean and make for a truly warming sunday lunch or dinner that celebrates the season.

Italian October - Vegan Boscaiola Pasta bake (Mushrooms, Truffle and Peas) for Earthsprout

Of some other products of the late fall months I will talk about in the 1st issue of Provencial Magazine, which comes out in November (get your copy!). There, you will read the true story of the meeting between a farmer and a rich photographer, set in 1960, amidst the truffle and mushroom-laden woods of the Montefeltro area. It is an essay full of suggestive pictures permeated by the bright fall mood – some of which are the work of Paolo, a friend of mine (like this awesome picture of the trees and light shining through).

October in Italy - Mushroom and Truffle Pasta Bake

 

Italian October - Vegan Boscaiola Pasta bake (Mushrooms, Truffle and Peas) and Vegan Bechamel Sauce for Earthsprout

This vegan pasta bake takes full advantage of this season and this place, which is world-famous for porcini and truffle. Acqualagna, along with Alba, is the world capital of truffles.
But this is a story that I will talk about in the near future.
For now, all I am going to say is that my mom could not believe it when she tried this, and my dad even said it was better then the regular version. This vegan bechamel (which is widely used in Italy and is called ‘besciamella’) is certainly no novelty in the vegan food world, but here is my own version for you to enjoy. It can be made with either almond milk or hazelnut milk – hazelnuts are in season and we are blessed with two trees loaded with them.
‘Boscaiola’, the name of this style of pasta, derives from the word ‘bosco’, which means ‘woods, forest’ and indicates a pasta sauce with peas and mushrooms. In most cases, Boscaiola is made with either Prosciutto or sausage, but we will compensate the lack thereof with some wonderful truffle paste. Truffle paste is actually a mix of truffle and porcini mushrooms, otherwise the costs would be unapproachable (also have a look at this selection!), that you can find in most italian groceries and supermarkets – especially when the season is right. I know truffle paste can be on the pricey side, but a little goes a long way and you can use it as a weekend treat. If it is easier to find or cheaper, go ahead and use truffle oil instead. If you can’t find any, or for some reason do not want to use truffle, I encourage you to try this pasta all the same, omitting the truffle. The bechamel ties it all together in an intensely flavored concoction, and the sauce itself is delicious in its simplicity. You could try and use a combination of mushrooms – I recommend porcini and button.

This is Sunday comfort food at its best. I hope you can try out this pasta and make your sunday lunches a little more awesome, and bring into your homes a whiff of the wondeful smells of the Italian fall.

Italian October - Vegan Boscaiola Pasta bake (Mushrooms, Truffle and Peas) for Earthsprout

Right before the oven!

October in Italy - Boscaiola Mushroom and Truffle Pasta Bake for Earthsprout

Vegan Shell Pasta Bake with Mushrooms & Truffle
(Serves 4)

For the pasta
200g Shell pasta, preferably the large kind
500g / 18 oz Cremini mushrooms, or a mix of porcini, champignons, button…
1 small yellow onion
1 1/2 cup frozen peas
4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 fat garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1/4 cup white wine
1 tbsp truffle paste
1-2 tbsps fine breadcrumbs
Salt and Pepper

For the vegan bechamel
50g Extra virgin olive oil
50g flour
5oo ml / 2 cups homemade almond or hazelnut milk
A good grating of nutmeg
1 tsp salt, or to taste
EXTRA: 1 tbsp nutritional yeast

Read the full recipe (along with a little more info on truffles) over at Earthsprout!

Italian October - Vegan Boscaiola Pasta bake (Mushrooms, Truffle and Peas) for Earthsprout

October in Italy - Boscaiola Mushroom and Truffle Pasta Bake for Earthsprout

  1. Your prose and photographs are absolutely wonderful. I am positive that your recipe will be just as wonderful. I would love to follow you around for a day of cooking and photography — I’m sure I’d learn a LOT.The way you stage the food is so artistic. I love getting your posts.
    Alla prossima,
    La tua amica,
    Marisa

    • Thank you so much, Marisa :) I’d love to show you my working process! It is one of my dreams to host a workshop. I am working on it for the not-too-near-but-not-too-far future!

    • Ahah, I’m lucky I live in a small place but know a lot of talented people ^^ and btw please go ahead and try it! It’s AWESOME!

  2. Wow, this pasta looks so comforting and nourishing at the same time. Definitely bookmarking this recipe. Also looking forward to your piece about truffles. That incredible intense, earthy smell is something that immediately pops up when I think of my time in Tuscany 3 years ago…

    • Aw, Tuscany certainly evokes memories of truffles! Where were you in Tuscany? I remember an amazing bowl of truffle and cheese ravioli at a place right next to Ponte Vecchio, in Florence… :)

  3. It is Sunday comfort food at its best indeed! the food looks delicious and I love the fact that it’s vegan ;)
    I also really like the outdoor autumnal pictures. The woodlands look stunning.
    As always thanks so much for sharing.
    Kimberly

    • And thank you so much for your comment <3
      You know, I started some serious Ashtanga Yoga a month ago and I LOVE it <3 You made me think of it!

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  5. Beautiful post Valentina and I love the use of hazelnut milk, it is such unappreciated gems with so much flavour!

  6. How beautiful! I just finished reading your post for Earthsprout and decided to come see more over here – so happy I did, as your space is just gorgeous!

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  8. This looks absolutely divine, especially for a crisp autumn evening. Thank you for sharing your talent with us and, as someone mentioned above, I would LOVE to spend time with you to learn your ways.

    Best,

    Renee

  9. OH MY GOD MY EYES. This is an assault of beauty–too much to handle!! I always love coming back to your blog because your unique photos never, ever fail to surprise me with its novelty. And your writing! “October tinges this land of warm, watercolor-like hues.” WRITE A NOVEL ALREADY. I would read it ;) Also, I didn’t think it was possible to make baked pasta without cheese, so thanks for proving me wrong!! This is brilliant, so brilliant!!! <333

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  11. Hello Lovely,

    This pasta bake looks so filling and decadent! I think it would make a great holiday dish, especially for Thanksgiving here in the States. I included a link to your recipe on my site, I hope that is all right!

  12. Oh dear, I was looking for some inspiration for my “Christmas Eve” Menù and I absolutely wanted to do a main course with this type of pasta that I literally ADORE! Well, I’ve just found the perfect recipe. I’m in love. <3 Thanks Vale!

    • Aw, thanks! This is soooo holiday and much better than it sounds (if that’s at all possible). Let me know how it goes if you make it! :)

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