Chanterelles, Parmigiano-Reggiano PDO, and Pine Nuts make this savory pasta absolutely drool-worthy!
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Italian Trade Commission. All opinions are 100% mine.
Autumn is hands-down my favorite time of year.
As soon as the calendar turns over to September, I am ready for apple cider, cozy sweaters, and my annual Harry Potter marathon.
This time last year, I was solo-travelling by train through Southern Italy. September is one of my favorite months to travel, because the weather is spectacular just about everywhere. Not only are the temperatures mild, but there’s gorgeous produce all around. I recall being worried about the weather being too hot in the South, but everywhere I went had either a cool mountain climate or a sea breeze to keep things fresh. The days were mild and the evenings were still warm enough to enjoy a meal and a glass of wine outside. I dislike warm weather more than pretty much anyone I know, so by the third week of September (when Autumn “officially” begins) I am completely over the warm summer nights. This year, it is still hot. Not as bad as it was in August (I was miserable!), but it is still too hot to turn on the oven or sleep with a proper blanket.
Weather like this calls for a special kind of recipe. Something that tastes like autumn, but doesn’t require an oven.
Enter this beautiful Autumn Mushroom Pasta!
This earthy autumn pasta recipe pairs perfectly with Italian red wine, which is lucky for me because I’m ready to switch out those crisp whites for some complex reds.
Excuse me while I completely geek out over three delicious Italian wines that would pair *perfectly* with an autumn pasta recipe.
All three are satisfying reds which are ideal to keep around the house any time you want to open up a bottle with dinner.
They are really approachable but impressive enough for a dinner party.
Can you guess which one I selected to enjoy with our dinner?
Wine Suggestion 1: Contessa Entellina
Contessa Entellina isn’t so much a “type” of wine as it is a region where wine is grown. It’s a PDO (protected designation of origin) on the ancient island of Sicily.
Sicilian wines have been becoming rather popular in recent years, and for good reason. The superb growing conditions and methods are ideal for both native Italian and international grape varietals, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Nero.
Contessa Entellina is a small region located just 30 miles south of Palermo. Many different wines can carry this label, as long as the grapes are grown within the regional boundaries. So, for example, you can find a Contessa Entellina Merlot or a Contessa Entellina Pinot Nero. When the name contains the grape variety, that means the wine was produced with a minimum of 85% of that specific grape.
Contessa Entellina also produces a Rosso, which can be a blend of reds from the region but must contain at least 50% Nero d’Avola or Syrah.
My favorite bottles from this region are those made with 85% Nero d’Avola. Nero d’Avola is a grape thought to be native to Sicily, and I think it is the most characteristically Sicilian of the bunch (<– pun intended). It is rich, full-bodied, and harmonious. The color tends to be ruby-red with highlights of garnet, with an intense fragrance of minerals and red fruit. The finish is both dry and velvety, so it’s perfect to pair with robust dishes like a spicy pasta with olives and capers. Linguine Puttanesca, anyone?
The Contessa Entellina appellation is a bit rare and can be hard to find. There are many fine wines made from Nero d’Avola grapes in Sicily, so if you cant find this particular appellation, ask your local wine merchant to suggest a substitution. The Nero d’Avolas from the southeastern corner of the island, in the areas of Ragusa, Noto and Pachino, are particularly noteworthy and complex.
Wine Selection 2: San Gimignano Rosso
The San Gimignano denomination belongs to the province of Siena, smack dab in the heart of Tuscany. This area is filled with rolling hills: just perfect for wine production.
The Rosso is made from a minimum of 50% Sangiovese grapes, with the addition of other bold reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or Pinot Nero.
Sangiovese wines from the Tuscan regions are known for their rich bodies and intricate flavors. You might be more familiar with their use in the production of Chianti, but I highly recommend that you branch out and enjoy a beautiful red from San Gimignano.
These wines boast a ruby-red color with purple highlights, and streaks of garnet when aged. While you can definitely squirrel away a few bottles in the cellar, this wine is enjoyable even while young.
If you prefer, you can purchase a bottle with the Riserva label, meaning it has already been aged for 24 months (six of which must be in wooden kegs).
The tannins are fine and evolve toward licorice and chocolate, so I like to serve this wine as an aperitif with some balsamic-roasted mushrooms or a smoky eggplant dip.
Again, if you have trouble finding this particular appellation, don’t hesitate to ask your favorite wine merchant for some recommendations!
Trust me when I say that there are plenty of beautiful red blends made in Tuscany. If you want something similar to a San Gimignano Rosso, just look for Tuscan wine made with Sangiovese grapes and the addition of an international variety (like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or Pinot Nero).
Wine Selection 3: Colline Teramane Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Wow, that’s a lot of words, huh? Let me break it down for you: Colline Teramane is Italian for “the hills of Teramo,” which is the name of the province where the wine is produced. Montepulciano is the grape variety, and d’Abruzzo means from the Abruzzo region. Not so bad, right?
The Abruzzo region is about two-thirds mountains and one-third hills, and offers great conditions for the production of the Montepulciano grape. The low foothills in the northern province of Teramo produce particularly full-bodied wines. They are supple and drinkable even while young, but put a few bottles in the cellar and witness their exceptional capacity to age.
This wine is deep ruby-red with purple highlights. The nose offers notes of red fruit and spices, followed by a hint of tobacco and leather.
Autumn Mushroom Pasta
Okay, now that we’ve got a few options for red wine to pair with an autumn pasta dish, let’s talk about that pasta.
I wanted to make a dish that featured the savory notes of autumn, but was light enough to enjoy on a still-warm-evening. Tomato sauce is more of a winter thing for me, so I decided to go with mushrooms, cheese, and nuts instead.
September is prime chanterelle-hunting season, so those golden beauties have been on my mind quite a bit lately. They have a marvelously woody flavor which pairs perfectly with nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano PDO.
You can usually find fresh chanterelles in a well-stocked market this time of year. If you have trouble you can also use hedgehog, shiitake, oyster, or even morel mushrooms.
You’ll want to use authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano PDO cheese for this recipe, none of that questionable ‘parmesan’ stuff you find in the tubs. Bonus tip: save the rind and use it to add extra flavor to sauces and stews!
Okay, let’s talk pasta. I wanted to use a pasta that mimics the shape and texture of our beautiful chanterelles, so I went with Malfalde. You can also use Gigli, Campanelle, or Radiatori. Feel free to experiment!
So which wine did I choose to complement this pasta?
If you guessed the Colline Teramane Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, you are correct!
It’s just so perfect with the aged cheese, toasty pine nuts, and earthy mushrooms.
If you’re looking for a side dish to accompany this autumn pasta, I recommend my Lemony Wild Rice and Massaged Kale Salad.
Here’s the Recipe!
Autumn Mushroom Pasta Recipe
- 5 ounces dry 'ruffled' pasta*
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 10 ounces fresh chanterelle mushrooms** - cleaned and dry
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 2 ounces shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano PDO
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
- Prepare the pasta in heavily salted water according to package directions for al-dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the pine nuts in a dry 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Toast the pine nuts, shaking and stirring frequently, until golden brown (about 5 to 7 minutes). Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside.
- Return the skillet to the stove and adjust the heat to medium-high. Melt the butter in the pan, then add the mushrooms and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, until browned.
- Drain the prepared pasta and add it to the skillet. Toss well and season with black pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the toasted pine nuts, shaved Parmiagiano-Reggiano PDO, and minced chives. Serve at once.
Interested in Italian wine? Watch this video and follow this link to learn more!