When I was fifteen I was given the opportunity to travel to Rome for an exchange program. Oddly enough, this was not an exchange for an Italian language class, but rather a Latin class. I was really nervous to go, especially since I didn’t speak Italian in any meaningful way and had never left the country without my parents before. This anxiety was definitely strongly tinged with excitement, (I mean who wouldn’t be excited about taking a trip to Rome?) but it was still pretty stomach churning and nail biting nonetheless.
Once I got to Rome, it was more familiar than scary. I was feeling so connected to my roots and my heritage. Rather than being overwhelming, the language reminded me of my nonna, and I understood so much more than I anticipated.
I’ve been feeling a lot of that same brand of anxiety recently. I’m graduating in a few short months, about to embark on “real life” and as much as I’m excited to be done with homework, I’m also so incredibly nervous.
However, like that leap I made when I was 15, I’m hoping that after this massive transition, I find myself feeling connected to my roots, and understanding more than I anticipate.
To celebrate and prepare for this time in my life, I wanted to share with you the first dinner my Italian host mother made for me. This creamy mushroom pasta is life-giving and soul-hugging. When I had it in Italy, it was made with farfalle, because oddly enough, my exchange student only liked short pasta shapes. However, I make it with fettuccine because I love the way the sauce sticks to the longer pasta.
I hope this dish brings you both comfort and excitement, as it did for me six years ago, and as it does for me now.
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp black pepper
1 big pinch salt
1/4 cup sweet peas
2 tbsp dry white wine
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup pecorino or parmesan, plus more for garnish
1 ladle full of pasta water
parsley, for garnish
1 box fettuccine
- Boil the pasta according to the package instructions in heavily salted water until al dente. Reserve a ladle full of pasta water. Drain the pasta and do not rinse. Set aside.
- Wash and slice white mushrooms.
- Sauté mushrooms with olive oil on medium- high heat until fragrant and brown.
- Season with salt and add the garlic.
- Sauté the garlic and mushrooms together on medium heat until the garlic is fragrant.
- Deglaze the pan with about two tablespoons of dry white wine.
- Add in half a cup heavy cream and turn the heat up to high.
- Continuously stir until the cream is brought to a boil and thickens significantly. The cream should darken in color and should coat the back of a spoon.
- Lower the heat to a simmer and add in the sweet peas.
- Add the cheese and stir to melt.
- Add in the pasta and the pasta water and toss to cover each noodle with sauce.
- Plate the pasta and top with more cheese and chopped parsley and enjoy!