Pasta alla boscaiola, or woodsman-style pasta, is a wonderfully earthy dish with an incredible variety of textures and flavors. Cremini and porcini mushrooms and crumbled sausage are simmered in a tomato-based white wine cream sauce and tossed with al dente pasta, fresh rosemary, and grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Despite its complex flavors, this pasta can be made in about 35 minutes.
I am a huge fan of hearty pastas that are easy to make, especially during the cooler months.
Pasta alla boscaiola, also known as woodcutter’s pasta, or pasta in the woodsman-style, is one of those pastas.
Rigatoni Boscaiola is aptly named as it bursts with the outrageous flavors of the woods: cremini and porcini mushrooms, crumbled pork sausage, and piney rosemary create the woodsy flavor profile while white wine, cream, and tomatoes form a decadent sauce that allows all the ingredients to shine.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Place 1 ounce of dried poricini mushrooms in a bowl with enough hot water to cover them. Once the mushrooms are reconstituted (about 10 minutes), drain and squeeze out the liquid, and set them aside. Slice 1 pound of cremini mushrooms and 5 cloves of garlic. Dice one medium onion, chop 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves, and mince 1/4 cup of flat-leaf Italian parsley.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat a large pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Place 3/4 pound of bulk Italian sausage in the pan and begin to brown the sausage, using a spoon to break it up along the way. Once the sausage is cooked through, remove it from the pan and place it on a separate plate covered or tented with foil to keep it warm.
- Turn up the heat in the pan to medium-high and add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil along with the sliced cremini mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms until they brown and release their water (about 5 minutes) then add the reconstituted mushrooms and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Once the water from the mushrooms evaporates season them with a touch of salt. Add the onion and cook until it softens (4-5 minutes). Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for an additional 2 minutes, or until golden.
- Add 1 pound of rigatoni or penne to the salted boiling water and cook until 1 minute less than al dente. Add 3/4 cup of dry white wine and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the liquid reduces by about half.
- Return the sausage to the pan, add 14 ounces of crushed plum tomatoes, and bring the sauce to a simmer.
- Once the sauce is simmering and the pasta is almost cooked, add 3/4 cup of heavy cream and cook until the sauce is bubbling lightly.
- Add the pasta to the pan (be sure to reserve extra pasta water), and stir frequently until it reaches al dente. Once it’s al dente, remove the pan from the heat and add a 1/2 cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and the parsley. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water to thin it to the perfect consistency. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper as required. Serve the rigatoni boscaiola with more grated Parmigiano Reggiano and enjoy!
Top tips for pasta alla boscaiola
- The mushrooms. I used two types of mushrooms for this recipe. It’s often difficult to find fresh porcini mushrooms but I can usually always find the dried version. Simply submerging them in water for about 5-10 minutes will rehydrate them and adding them to this dish adds another layer of flavor. I also used fresh cremini (aka baby bella mushrooms) mushrooms. Feel free to use whatever mushrooms you can find. Boscaiola would be great with a variety of different mushrooms including shitake, maitake, trumpets, and more. And if all that’s available to you are white button mushrooms, use those and this will still be great!
- Variations and additions. There are many variations of pasta alla boscaiola. Some use no tomatoes while others have even more than we used. Some use pancetta or bacon instead of sausage, others include green peas or thyme. You could also make this vegetarian by omitting the sausage.
- Reserve your pasta water. As with all of our pasta dishes, I urge you to save your pasta water. This is even more important with a cream sauce as it may dry out. The pasta water can be used to bring the pasta and sauce back to a silky perfect texture.
More hearty pastas you’ll love
If pasta alla boscaiola sounds enticing, we think you’ll also love these other earthy and incredibly delicious pastas!
- Pasta alla Norcina – crumbled sausage, white wine, Pecorino Romano, and a touch of nutmeg.
- Pasta with mushroom-brandy cream sauce – seared mushrooms tossed with spaghetti in a tomato-based creamy brandy sauce.
- Creamy mushroom pasta bake – baked rigatoni with roasted mushrooms, fontina cheese, spinach, thyme, and ricotta.
If you’ve enjoyed this pasta alla boscaiola or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and tell us about it in the comments below.
Pasta alla Boscaiola
- 1 pound rigatoni or penne, paccheri, etc
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 pound bulk Italian sausage
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms sliced
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms reconstituted in hot water then squeezed out
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves chopped
- 5 cloves garlic sliced
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 14 ounces crushed plum tomatoes
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley minced
- 2 cups reserved pasta water will not need it all
- Pour hot water over the dried mushrooms to reconstitute them. Once reconstituted squeeze out the liquid and set them aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
- Heat a large pan to medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Brown the sausage and break it up with a wooden spoon. Once the sausage is cooked through remove it to a plate tented with foil.
- Turn the heat up a touch and add the remaining olive oil to the pan along with the mushrooms. Brown the mushrooms until they release their water and it evaporates (about 5 minutes). Once they release their water, toss in the reconstituted porcini mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes then season with a touch of salt.
- Add the onions to the pan and cook until soft (about 4-5 minutes). Add the garlic and the rosemary and cook for 2 minutes longer or until golden.
- At this time cook the pasta until 1 minute less than al dente.
- Add the white wine and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the liquid reduces by about half. Return the sausage to the pan and add the tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a simmer.
- Once the sauce is simmering and the pasta is almost cooked add the cream and cook until it is lightly bubbling.
- Add the pasta to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until it reaches a perfect al dente. Once it's al dente, remove the pan from the heat and add in the grated cheese and the parsley. If the sauce is too thick add some of the reserved pasta water to thin it out. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper levels. Serve with more grated Parmigiano. Enjoy!
- Makes 4 very large or 6 moderate-sized servings.
- Dried mushrooms can be omitted, but often you can only find porcini mushrooms in dried form.
- If the pasta dries out at all just add a touch of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up and mix well before serving.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and can be reheated on the stovetop or the microwave.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.