Pasta alla Boscaiola (Mushroom, Olives, and Sausage Pasta)

October 27, 2016
3 Ratings
Photo by Emiko
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This is a Tuscan dish symbolic of the fall when fresh, foraged mushrooms fill the markets and families go out on the weekend expeditions to collect funghi.

The recipe changes from household to household, with mushrooms being the only steady ingredient. Sausage can be replaced with pancetta, or left out all together. Very often cream features in this favorite trattoria dish, but I prefer less cream (just a splash) and not too much Parmesan so you can benefit from the full flavor of wild mushrooms.

I suggest using any fresh, wild mushrooms, particularly porcini, chantarelles, and chiodini (honey) mushrooms. If you cannot get these, you can also use regular button mushrooms, Swiss browns, oyster mushrooms, or shimeji mushrooms (a mixture is always a good idea). If using just button mushrooms, you can add also some dried porcini mushrooms for extra flavor—place about 30 grams or 1 ounce of mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soften for about 15 minutes and add the mushrooms, along with their liquid, with the wine in the steps below.

You can make the sauce in advance in an airtight container in the refrigerator. In this case, reserving some of the cooking water is a very good idea. —Emiko

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 pound (approximately 250 grams) wild mushrooms (see note)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and slightly flattened with the side of a kitchen knife
  • 1 Italian (ideally pork and fennel) sausage, about 180 grams or 6 ounces
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white wine (or water)
  • 1/4 cup good-quality olives (such as taggiasche olives)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
  • 11 ounces (320 grams) short pasta, such as fusilli or penne
  • grated Parmesan cheese, if desired
  1. Trim the very end of the stems of the mushrooms. Clean the mushrooms using a damp paper towel on their caps and stems, if needed. If you're using very small mushrooms or chantarelles, leave them whole, but if using porcini or button mushrooms, slice them finely. If using dried porcini, let them steep for 15 minutes in freshly boiled water (see note). Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan over low heat and add the garlic clove. Allow the oil to infuse with the garlic, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes, but don't let it burn.
  3. Peel the skin off sausage and crumble into the pan. Turn the heat up to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden on all sides.
  4. Add the mushrooms to the pan and continue cooking over medium, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender.
  5. Ideally you want to put the pasta in the water to boil around now—look at the pasta's package for the cooking time and take off 1 minute (you want it al dente, as it will continue to cook in the mushroom sauce).
  6. Add the white wine or water (if using dried porcini, you can add them here, along with their liquid at this point) and continue simmering, allowing the alcohol to cook off for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the olives, stir through the cream, and let cook 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat. If your timing is right, the pasta will be just about ready so keep the sauce warm by covering it with a lid.
  8. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/4 cup of the water, if needed, to help loosen the sauce. Add the pasta directly to the boscaiola sauce. Toss to coat evenly, then immediately distribute into shallow bowls and serve with some grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • J.B.
  • Элла Элен
    Элла Элен
  • Nadine1965
  • Anne Cashill
    Anne Cashill

6 Reviews

Nadine1965 November 15, 2020
I had to use what was available at my house: forest mushrooms in oil, Greek black mushrooms in oil, leftover cream and cream cheese and Italian sausage from the freezer. I had red wine open, so I added a dash of red wine. Put some piment d'espelette in stead of pepper. The flavours were just wow! Think I'm going to try the same with artichokes on oil (in stead of mushrooms) and cod from the freezer. I'm eating my way through the food in my house 😂. Lockdown measures, food pleasures 😏.
J.B. March 14, 2020
Stellar stuff; enjoyed the comments from Russia, good suggestions!
Anne C. September 25, 2018
Loved this recipe. Great flavors. Added chopped Swiss chard and a touch of red pepper flakes.
ali June 3, 2018
Delicious! Making it again tonight!
Элла Э. November 10, 2016
This is amazing! I made this recipe two times. The first time I followed the directions to a T, and though it was delicious, I found it a bit too oily from meat, olive oil and cream. Here in Russia we have kupaty, Georgian sausages that are very similar to Italian ones. Maybe they just contain more fat, so I can be wrong about overall oiliness. The next time I used only one tablespoon of oil and plain milk instead of cream. Much better and no need in pasta water. Also added a handful of baby brussel sprouts along with mushrooms - was ok, so I think some other vegetables also won't hurt. Very weeknight-style :)
I find that fennel aroma (in sausage or possibly from some added fennel seeds) is a critical thing. Without it the sauce lacked depth.
Emiko, thank you for a great recipe!
Kitspy November 6, 2016
So, so good. Made this for dinner tonight using sweet Italian style chicken sausage with kale (because my eating partner is allergic to pork), and shiitake and baby bella mushrooms, which was all the supermarket had. I'd love to try it with other mushrooms, but it was excellent with what I had.