This pasta salad is particularly nice for the company because fresh porcini mushrooms, available only in the fall, are special. The wait for them is worth it. Use cremini, shiitake, or a combination of the two at other times. If you are serving this for a special occasion, roast tenderloin, with or without a peppercorn crust, is the ideal accompaniment. Because of the cream in the mushroom glaze, this pasta, special as it is, does not keep.
8 ounces shallots
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil plus two tablespoons
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
8 ounces fresh porcini mushrooms
½ cup dry white wine
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg’2 teaspoons thyme leaves
⅔ cup heavy cream
1 pound penne
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the ocean to 350 degrees F.
Peel and trim the shallots. Toss the shallots with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and salt and several grinds of pepper to taste. Spread them on a small baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes. Remove and let cool.
Trim the ends off the stems of the mushrooms and discard. Rinse the mushrooms well and thinly slice them from top to bottom.
Peel, trim and slice the garlic.
In a large skillet, cook the garlic in ½ cup olive oil over low heat, stirring, until softened, but do not let them brown. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute them, stirring, until they begin to release water. Add the wine and increase the heat to medium. Add the 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, nutmeg, and thyme. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes. Add the cream, stir well, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, stir to separate, and cook over high heat for 10 minutes, until al dente. (Or follow the cooking directions on the package.) Drain the pasta in a colander. To prevent the pasta from sticking together, spread it out on a large baking sheet or platter and let it cool, about 15 minutes. Cover and hold at room temperature for up to 3 hours. Transfer the cooled pasta to a large serving bowl.
On a cutting board, coarsely chop the roasted shallots. Add them to the pasta, add the mushroom glaze, and toss well. Add the cheese and toss again. Adjust the seasonings. Serve within 1 hour.