I came across some fresh peas at the supermarket the other day and grabbed them even though my girlfriend says she doesn’t like peas. I wanted to try to incorporate them into a pasta dish to show her how delicious they can be. Who would even know they were eating peas when they’re drenched in white truffle oil and covered with earthy, roasted mushrooms, and caramelized shallots?
If you’re not familiar with Anglonotti (pronounced anneeolottee), it is a stuffed pasta from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, very similar to a ravioli. I got the chance to visit Piedmont a few years ago and absolutely fell in love with everything about the region. I stayed in the town of Alba for the weekend which was a perfect mix of old world charm and modern city flair. Alba is famous for many things culinary including one of the most expensive pieces of fungus around…the truffle. When the truffle is pressed into an oil, just a single drop will elevate any dish to a whole new level. The aromas are so distinct, yet undescribable. When you’re sitting in an Italian restaurant, you know when someone across the room orders a truffle dish.
Sticking with the Piedmontese theme, I tossed some of the wild mushroom anglonotti with roasted portabellos, caramelized shallot, peas, and white truffle oil; topping it all off with a splash of grated Pecorino Romano cheese to give it some tang. The earthy flavors of the wild mushrooms lightened up by the pop of fresh peas was a beautiful match. The sweetness of the caramelized shallot was an interesting touch with the rich truffle oil. Here’s a quick tip on cooking mushrooms… Don’t salt the mushrooms until after they’re roasted or sauteed, and use very little oil or butter. You want to achieve a nice dark color and rich earthy flavor. Salt draws all the liquid and moisture out of the mushrooms (there’s alot in there) and your mushrooms will actually steam instead of roast. The result is a yellowish, rubbery thing that you usually see on top of pizza.
I paired this dish with one of my favorite whites from Piedmont too; the 2007 Banfi Principessa Gavi. Gavi is made from the Cortese grape and it is most comparable in style to a Sauvignon Blanc. It is light, fruity, and finishes bone dry. I thought it worked perfectly with this dish because this dish is quite deceiving. It appears to be rather light because it’s not sopping up a heavy sauce, but it really is pretty intense and needed a crisp white wine to cut through the rich oil and sharp Pecorino cheese. Some people say that food can transport you to certain places around the world and after this meal I am 100% on board with that statement. I felt like I was sitting outside in a piazza at a small ristorante in Alba eating this dish once all the flavors of the region came together. I asked my girlfriend if now she likes peas but she couldn’t respond because her mouth was full of them and her plate was empty.