It’s time to experience Penne Boscaiola Woodsman style. This recipe is reminiscent of one I used to have at a restaurant back “home” in Boston. I used to eat it on any special occasion I could think of. It was so rich and creamy – but far from good for you. This version will allow me to indulge a little more often. When this blog started one of the goals was to update and upgrade our favorite dishes. This is one of those dishes for me.
What is Boscaiola?
Boscaiola sauce is an Italian sauce made with mushrooms and cream, it literally means, “with mushrooms” when translated according to bab.la. We can only imagine how often it is cooked when mushrooms are in season, using up whatever is on hand. In this recipe you get to be the judge of the mushrooms as you can pick your favorites for the three cups of assorted mushrooms. Please report your experiments below so I can try out your combinations the next time I make this recipe myself.
A traditional ingredient in Boscaiola sauce is cream. Well that simply won’t do for us. We want to be able to enjoy this recipe whenever we want. So, I opted for dairy-free milk in a pink(ish) sauce. This won’t make it very pink, but lighten the mood enough to enjoy the creaminess. If you are looking for a more authentic color, you may want to explore a non-dairy creamer, unflavored and unsweetened of course.
Our next ingredient, swapping the traditional pork from the recipe I was used to, but still getting that flavor was to use vegetarian bacon. Other recipes I’ve seen included sausage, for which there are plenty of vegetarian options for us, but I wasn’t interested in going down that route. Still, if you are looking for substitutions, you could use a vegan sausage to spice things up.
And finally, a simple sauce. I’ve included the recipe here rather than have you make a separate batch because it comes together so quickly. We’ll make a separate fuller recipe in the future with a few more ingredients so you can use it on its own, but here I did not want to overpower the rest of the ingredients in the dish.
Why did I go for a Woodsman style in my sauce by adding tomatoes? Well, I was missing that funky restaurant I mentioned earlier. It inspired me, and I wanted to pay homage to it by keeping it a pink sauce in my remake. It truly is delicious!
I have to make a sauce?!
If you are nervous about making a sauce and then making the dish, don’t be; everything comes together in jiffy. That’s why I used crushed tomatoes for the sauce. You quickly saute the onion and garlic together, add in the tomatoes, basil, and honey, and you’re nearing the finish line.
Honey is my secret ingredient in sauces. Some people–well, most people–add sugar to balance out the acidity in the tomatoes, I add honey. Just a little bit, but I do add it religiously. I usually don’t even measure; I just drizzle in a little bit. In this recipe I added a teaspoon to measure it out, but feel free to go with less if you are nervous. I thought it turned out perfectly.
With a quick addition of the dairy-free milk in the end, your sauce is complete and you are ready to add it to the main dish. See? It was really just a few steps to complete the sauce.
The main dish is just as easy, you are sauteing some mushrooms, cooking the pasta, and adding the sauce to combine everything together. It couldn’t be easier to create such a decadent tasting dish – it’s almost too good to be true – but, my friends, here it is!
If you’re able to save some of this dish you can even reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop really easily. It tastes delicious!
Let’s make this a 3-course meal
While this dish is a meal onto itself, you could certainly make a nice starter with say our Roasted Beet and Mixed Greens with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette salad for a special occasion, or for entertaining. Finish it off with one of our desserts for a really special affair.
Don’t forget to let us know how you made out with the dish, especially what types of mushrooms you used.
Penne Boscaiola Woodsman Style
- 1 teaspoon olive oil extra-virgin
- 2 cloves garlic pressed
- 1/2 small sweet onion diced
- 1 14.5 ounce crushed tomatoes San Marzano if possible
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon basil dried
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2-3 grinds fresh cracked pepper
- 1/2 cup dairy-free milk
- 8 ounces whole wheat penne any tubular pasta will do
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 slices vegetarian bacon sliced (optional)
- 3 cups assorted mushrooms cleaned and stems removed, sliced 1/4"
- Parmesan for topping optional
- In a saucepan over medium, heat oil and garlic. Saute until fragrant.
- Add onion and cook until translucent, approximately 5 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, honey, basil, salt and pepper. Cook until bubbly and warm, approximately 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Stir in milk.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta according to the package.
- In a large saute pan, add oil and bacon over medium heat, cook until crispy. Remove.
- Add mushrooms and cook until tender, approximately 5 minutes.
- Add pasta, bacon, and sauce to the frying pan and combine. Alternatively if your pan is not large enough, add all ingredients to a large heat-resistant bowl and combine.
- Immediately plate or place in a large serving bowl for family style to serve; top with optional Parmesan.
- Vegan option: swap out honey for agave in the sauce, and omit the cheese or use a vegan cheese substitute.