Spaghetti Alla Norcina
(Spaghetti with Truffles or Mushrooms)


Truffles are synonymous with Italy. The white Alba truffle is the principal prize in Piedmont. To sniff them out, dogs are specially trained using cheese scented with truffles. Black truffles from Norcia, in Umbria, are not as highly prized, but in my opinion have more flavor. Winter truffles, d'inverno, have more flavor than those of the summer, l'estate.

Serves 4


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 black truffle, sliced, or 2 ounces
     dried porcini, reconstituted (see below)
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 ounces spaghetti
a handful of fresh basil, finely torn
freshly grated Parmesan to taste

1. Heat the oil in a heavy pan, add the truffle or drained porcini, and cook gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the garlic and parsley. Return to the heat and cook gently for a few more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain thoroughly, then pile into a warm serving dish.

3. Pour the sauce over the spaghetti, mix well, then sprinkle the basil leaves over the top. Serve with plenty of Parmesan.


To reconstitute dried porcini, always use coldwater so as not to draw out too much flavor from the mushrooms themselves. Use a minimum quantity of water, for the same reason. Cover the mushrooms with water in a bowl and leave for 10 ininutes. Pick them out of the water rather than strain them through a sieve (thus leaving any grit in the bowl). You could use the strained soaking water as stock in another dish.


Buy the Book!


Gusto Italiano
Quick and Simple Vegetarian Cooking
by Ursula Ferrigno
Bay Books
ISBN: 1-57959-513-8
Hardcover, 224 pages
$32.00, Hardcover
Recipe reprinted by permission.


Gusto Italiano



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