Pici with Mushroom and Walnut Bolognese



Pici with Mushroom and Walnut Bolognese

Today, we're taking a culinary journey from Tuscany to New York to try an alternative version of the traditional Tuscan pasta: Pici with Mushroom and Walnut Bolognese. This dish is a signature creation of Riccardo Orfino, chef at Osteria 57 in NYC. It's a vegetarian twist on the classic Bolognese sauce, perfectly complementing the rustic texture of semolina pici pasta. To make the sauce, a mix of fresh mushrooms and chopped dried porcini mushrooms are used, adding a pleasant earthy note. The addition of toasted walnuts makes it rich and hearty, despite the absence of meat. You just have to try it!


For the fresh pasta (pici)
Remilled durum wheat semolina 2 ½ cups (300 g)
Water ⅔ cup (160 g) - lukewarm
Fine salt 1 pinch
For the vegetarian Bolognese
Mixed mushrooms 14 oz (400 g) - (oyster, portobello, brown beech, champignon)
Porcini mushrooms 2.5 oz (70 g) - dried
Walnut kernels 1 ½ cup (150 g)
Tomato puree 1 cup (300 g)
Carrots 1
Onions ½
Celery 1 stalk
Garlic 1 clove
Tomato paste 1 tbsp
Sun-dried tomatoes in oil 1 oz (25 g)
Red wine ¼ cup (60 g)
Vegetable broth 2 cups (500 g)
Aromatic herbs to taste
Water - as needed
Extra virgin olive oil - as needed
Fine salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

How to prepare Pici with Mushroom and Walnut Bolognese

To make Pici with Mushroom and Walnut Bolognese, first prepare the vegetable broth and keep it warm. Meanwhile, focus on the fresh pasta: spread the semolina flour in a well on a work surface, then pour the lukewarm water into the center 1 and start to incorporate it with a fork 2. Continue to mix the dough by collecting the ingredients with a bench scraper 3.

Add a pinch of salt 4 and knead with your hands 5 until the dough is elastic and uniform 6. Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

After the dough's rest time, divide it into smaller portions 7 and form long, thin ropes 8. Cut the ropes to obtain pici about the length of spaghetti 9.

Lay the pici on a tray lined with a cloth sprinkled with semolina and cover with plastic wrap 10. Move on to the mushrooms: soak the dried porcini to rehydrate them 11, then clean the fresh mushrooms by removing the earthy part of the base 12.

Slice the portobello and champignon mushrooms into thin slices 13, tear the oyster mushrooms by hand 14, and leave the brown beech mushrooms whole. Drain the porcini mushrooms and chop them finely with a knife 15.

Now, prepare the walnuts: roughly chop the kernels 16 and toast them for a few minutes in a pan with a drizzle of oil, so they release their natural oils 17. When you start to smell them, turn off the heat and transfer the toasted walnuts to a bowl. Set aside 18.

In the same pan, add oil and the previously chopped vegetables for the soffritto, namely onion, carrot, celery, and garlic 19. Sauté the soffritto over low heat, then add the tomato paste 20 and mix well to blend 21.

Transfer the soffritto to the bowl with the walnuts and set aside 22. In the same pan, pour in the mushrooms with a drizzle of oil 23, season with salt and pepper, and cook over high heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring often. When the mushrooms are golden, add the chopped dried porcini and the soffritto 24.

Deglaze with red wine 25 and let the alcohol completely evaporate, then add the toasted walnuts and the tomato purée 26, rinsing the jug with a little water. Also pour in the hot vegetable broth 27.

Finally, add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes 28 and a bouquet of fresh aromatic herbs tied together with string 29. Let it simmer gently for 2 hours. When the ragù is ready 30, bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pici.

Cook the pici for 6-7 minutes 31, then drain them into the pan with the sauce and stir to combine everything 32. Your Pici with Mushroom and Walnut Ragù are ready to be enjoyed 33!


How to store

Pici with Mushroom and Walnut Bolognese can be stored in the refrigerator for one day.

You can keep raw pici for one day at room temperature, stored between two kitchen towels dusted with semolina flour. Alternatively, you can freeze them by first letting them harden in the freezer laid out on a tray and then transferring them to freezer bags, being careful not to break them.


For the vegetarian Bolognese, you can choose your favorite varieties of mushrooms!