A simple truffle pasta dish, that will allow you appreciate the incredible flavor of fresh black truffles.
Treat yourself with black truffle pasta, a simple yet amazing tasting dish that will make you understand why truffles are also known under the name of “black gold” or “the diamond of the kitchen”. Just a few ingredients, but such a delight.
And should you like to make some sweet truffles have a look at the Champagne Truffles!
What are truffles?
Truffles are edible fungi, like mushrooms, that grow underground among the roots of certain trees, like oak or hazelnut. They grow mostly in concentrated areas around the world, like Italy and France in Europe, New Zealand, the Pacific Northwest and so on.
There are two sorts of truffles: the extremely expensive and hard to find white truffles, and the black truffles, which are expensive as well, but not quite so extremely. They’re are also more readily available.
Why are they so expensive?
Mostly because they are so difficult to find and to grow. They need special climatic conditions, a lot of dedication, care and investment. Truffle farms need about a decade to start producing, and the life cycle of such a farm seems to be of only about 30 years. The fungi also lose most of their flavor after about a week, so they cannot be stored properly either.
What do they taste like?
The flavor comes mostly from their aroma and not from their taste. Strong, pungent, musky, woody. If you are not familiar with it, you might even think that something is wrong when you first smell a truffle.
I don’t have the possibility of buying fresh truffles here in Germany, unless I order them online. The first thing I notice when the parcel enters the house is the odor, the whole kitchen will smell of truffles before you even open the package.
William Makepeace Thackeray finds the best words to describe the flavor: “Presently, we were aware of an odour gradually coming towards us, something musky, fiery, savoury, mysterious, — a hot drowsy smell, that lulls the senses, and yet enflames them— the truffles were coming.” (Memorials of Gormandizing, 1841).
What do you need?
- My opinion is that it’s better to eat truffles only once a year, but then do it properly, than to try to stretch a tiny amount to make several dishes.
- I had a larger 35 g/ 1.2 oz and a smaller 20 g/ 0.7 tuber and I used them both to make this truffle pasta recipe. It was enough to delight four people on top of about 450 g/ 1 lb of buttery noodles.
How to store them?
- I used the truffles two days after I got them, but still I was careful to store them properly during the waiting time.
- My favorite method is to bury them in a large jar full of risotto rice and place that in the fridge. Not only that the truffles are perfectly stored this way, but the rice will also get some of the wonderful fungi flavor.
- An important ingredient as well. I rarely cook a savory dish using so much butter, but this recipe really needs it. Butter enhances the flavor of the tubers, and you need quite a lot of it to make it count.
- Parmesan: don’t ruin such an expensive and delicate dish by using already grated Parmesan from a box. Buy a wedge of good quality cheese and grate it yourself before adding to the sauce.
- I had spaghetti, but tagliolini, linguine and so on will be fine as well.
How to make black truffle pasta?
- Start with cooking the pasta water. Once boiling, add plenty of salt and the pasta. Cook al dente.
- Making the truffle pasta sauce only takes minutes. You will need some cooking water for the sauce, so once the spaghetti are almost cooked, you should have all the sauce ingredients ready for the pan.
- That means: grate the Parmesan and set aside. Cube the butter and set aside. Grate about 2/3 of the truffles and set aside.
- Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet on medium high heat.
- Add the butter cubes, turn the heat down to medium low and let it melt. (1)
- Add about one ladleful pasta water (more or less 75 ml/ 2.5 fl.oz/ 1/3 cups) to the butter.
- Turn the heat down to low and stir gently until the mixture emulsifies. (2)
- Add the grated Parmesan. When adding Parmesan to this sauce (or similar sauces) you have to be very careful, so that the cheese doesn’t become grainy or clumpy. The heat should be somewhere between medium low and low and the Parmesan should melt slowly while you stir continuously. (3)
- Once the sauce is smooth (it will take less than a minute), add the grated truffles and another splash of cooking water. Stir gently, turn off the heat and let the sauce infuse for a minute or so while you drain the spaghetti. (4)
- Add the noodles to the skillet and stir gently to combine.
How to serve?
Serve immediately, with the remaining black truffles shaved on top of the dish. Sprinkle with more Parmesan if desired.
I never have side dishes with this black truffle pasta dish, I feel that it should be enjoyed as it is with nothing else that might distract from it.
Other simple pasta dishes:
- Garlic Butter Pasta with Parmesan
- Beetroot Pasta
- Tuna Pesto Pasta
- Vegetable Pasta with Pesto
- Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
- 1 lb spaghetti linguine or taglialoni
- 2/3 cup butter Note 1
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1-2 fresh black truffles depending on size, a total weight of about 50 g/ 1.7 oz (Note 2)
- fine sea salt
- Cook pasta al dente in plenty of well-salted water.
- Preparations: Making the sauce only takes minutes. Grate the Parmesan and set aside. Cube the butter and set it aside. Grate about 2/3 of the truffles and set aside. Keep all these prepared ingredients separated.
- Melt butter: Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet. Add the butter cubes, and let melt on medium-low heat.
- Add about one ladleful of pasta water (more or less 75 ml/ 2.5 fl. oz/ 1/3 cups) to the butter. Stir gently on low heat until the mixture emulsifies slightly.
- Add Parmesan and stir gently and continuously on low heat until it melts; it will take less than a minute.
- Add truffles: Once the sauce is smooth, add the grated truffles and another splash of pasta water. Turn off the heat and let the sauce infuse for a minute or so while you drain the pasta.
- Add the pasta to the skillet and stir gently to combine. Adjust the taste with salt, be generous, especially if using unsalted butter.
- Serve immediately, with the remaining black truffles shaved on top of the dish.
- You can use either salted or unsalted butter; just adjust the taste with salt accordingly.
- A little more or less is perfectly fine.