Italian Regional Recipes Primi Piatti: Pasta, Rice, Soups

Pappardelle with Mushroom, Smoked Pancetta & Saffron

Saffron is a spice that goes perfectly with mushrooms and smoked pancetta, just use a little and diluted in hot water – or hot broth. We have browned separately smoked pancetta, just added afterwards to mushrooms. We used champignons although any other type of mushroom is fine, even the dried ones. Just soak them in warm water, filter their water without throwing it away and add it to the pan.
Do not underestimate the importance of pasta cooking water, adding just enough will give the right creaminess to the dish without the need to add cream or anything else.

Serves 4, Preparation 20 mins, Cooking 25 mins

  • 350 g Pappardelle Pasta
  • 1 sachet of saffron powder (0.16 g) or 30 saffron threads, to dilute
  • Diced smoked Pancetta,100 g
  • Champignon/Button mushrooms, 300 g
  • half an onion, finely sliced
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • A sprig of fresh parsley, chopped
  • EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 tablespoons


Clean mushrooms only with a damp cloth removing the soil (if any) from the stalks and trimming the tough end, then slice the mushrooms.

Gently fry the sliced onion in a pan with 2 tablespoons of EVOO for a few minutes, add mushrooms, parsley, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes.
In a separate saucepan, heat a tablespoon of EVOO and fry smoked pancetta until crispy, then add it to the pan with mushrooms and stir.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and cook Pappardelle. Meanwhile save a small glass of pasta cooking water in which dissolve the saffron powder.

Tip: In general, be careful not to add too much saffron to a dish, otherwise it goes from a pronounced sweet earthy flavor to a bitter taste.

Save another glass of cooking water, drain Pappardelle and add to the pan with mushrooms and Pancetta, add diluted saffron, stir, add the glass of cooking water to get more creaminess, mix well and serve.

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  1. Fiorenza, I have never heard of smoked pancetta. Is it a traditional Italian product? Does it go by a different name?

    This dish sounds amazing… The only pancetta I have in the house now is my own home cured version, but it’s not smoked. Let me know… I’m very curious.

    1. Yes David, smoked pancetta – pancetta affumicata is cured and smoked Italian pork belly, a traditional product. You can replace it with Speck Ham (smoked) if you can get it over there otherwise your home cured pancetta work very well!

        1. I’m so happy you made and liked it! Speck worked fine then, I’ll make this again by using it next time. Thanks for your feedback, David!

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