Is there anything better than a big bowl of pasta sitting in front of you at dinner? Absolutely. A pasta recipe that doesn’t take all day to make, you playing the role of the gentle old Italian grandmother in a faded apron stirring and stirring the sauce. Don’t get me wrong—sometimes I want my pasta fix, and there’s no end to my devotion (read: being chained to the stove). But when I want a quick and easy pasta recipe, there’s always Ethan’s Stowell’s Gnocchetti with Pancetta, Chanterelles, and Mint.
This pasta recipe is a perfect summer-ebbing-into-autumn dish, when chanterelles are at their finest. You’ll notice the recipe also calls for pancetta, which is unsmoked Italian bacon and lends a porky goodness to the gnocchetti.–Ethan Stowell
LC Getting to Know Gnocchetti Note
Not to be confused with gnocchi, gnocchetti (nyo-KAY-tee) is a small pasta shape that, not surprisingly, resembles its namesake potato dumpling. If you don’t happen to have gnocchetti on hand, use any similarly shaped pasta, such as orecchiette, cavatelli, or gemelli. Or heck, just swap in whatever pasta you happen to have on hand, whether penne, farfalle, even broken spaghetti.
Gnocchetti with Pancetta, Chanterelles, and Mint
- 1/2 pound dried gnocchetti sardi or other similarly shaped pasta (see LC Getting to Know Gnocchetti Pasta Note above)
- 3/4 pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 1/2 pound pancetta (or, in a pinch, lightly smoked bacon), cut into small dice
- 3 medium cloves garlic thinly sliced
- Pinch of chile flakes
- 2 tablespoons mint leaves chopped
- 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Add the gnocchetti and cook for 1 minute less than the package directions suggest.
- While the gnocchetti is cooking, slice off the tough end of each mushroom stem and clean the mushroom caps. Quarter any large mushrooms, leave any tiny ones whole, and halve the rest.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until it is golden but not too crisp and some of its fat has been rendered, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 or 6 minutes or so. When the mushrooms are golden brown, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the chile flakes.
- When the gnocchetti is ready, drain and add it to the mushroom-pancetta mixture, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. If the mixture seems dry, add a couple of tablespoons of cooking water. Season with salt and pepper, add the mint and parsley, and toss. Tip the gnocchetti into a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Using a vegetable peeler, shave a few large curls of Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. Bring the gnocchetti to the table with haste.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
After so many tomato-based and sometimes heavily sauced versions of gnocchi, this simple preparation is a refreshing alternative. I hadn’t heard of the tiny gnocchetti before this recipe and was very pleased with the way it holds the liquids from the pan once served. With the aromas stemming from this preparation, the most difficult part of this recipe was waiting for the food to cook. It was tantalizing to say the least. The mint provides more of a sensation than a flavor, although all of the ingredients came together to provide a wonderful taste experience. I used a fruity olive oil for drizzling and kept the Reggiano at the table.
As the note says, this is a “quick and easy” pasta recipe that is nevertheless full of flavor given the pancetta, mushrooms, chile flakes, and mint. It’s great for a weekend meal since there’s relatively little prep work, and it comes together quickly.
Originally published September 28, 2010