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Pappardelle with Porcini Mushrooms

Semester 1 of my degree is now behind me.  Just another five to go!  It ended with five exams then three weeks of clinical experience.  I finished my final exam at 4pm on a Friday and 6.45am Monday morning I was in the lock-up dementia unit of an aged care facility where I spent the next three weeks.

Pappardelle with porcini mushrooms

Pappardelle with porcini mushrooms

Dementia is sobering and heartbreaking and you certainly wouldn’t wish the condition on anyone.  As well, caring for people you can’t communicate or make a connection with is challenging.  I did try.  I knew they wouldn’t remember me but on my last day I brought in a box of chocolates for them to share.  It was lovely to see a few faces light up when offered a sparkly-wrapped chocolate.

Barilla's new egg pasta

Barilla’s new egg pasta

Finishing my clinical experience completed Semester 1 and what a relief – it seemed to have gone on for forever.  It started in January and ended just a few days short of July.  Towards the end I felt like I was dragging my heels.



And then came the wait for the exam results.  And I waited and waited and waited.  It took about five weeks!  One day I was sent an email advising the results would be posted online at 2am.  I was away on a family holiday (16 of us – we travel in a pack) and was so keyed up I woke at 3am.  I logged on and found I had five distinctions.  What a relief.

Clean and halve the mushrooms

Clean and halve the mushrooms

The next morning at the hotel’s breakfast buffet I couldn’t wait to share my results with my family.  I told my Asian brother-in-law who jokingly said, ‘Five distinctions?  That’s a Chinese fail’.  Mental note – cancel all plans to study in Beijing.  Then I turned to my other brother-in-law who was so excited for me he crushed me in a bear hug.  When he left school he lived in at St Paul’s College at Sydney Uni while ‘studying’.  Five years later and still no sign of a degree his father said to him, ‘I could have trained a monkey to get a degree in less time’.

Quick and easy

Quick and easy

All good things come to an end and so that’s it for the holidays.  Tomorrow I start Semester 2 which finishes just before Christmas.  I’ve looked through all the unit outlines to prepare myself for what’s ahead.  There’s another maths test!  I thought I had that behind me but no, for good measure there’s another one.

Anyway, onward and upward.

Requires only a handful of ingredients

Requires only a handful of ingredients

On the days I go to uni I’m often out the door at 6.30am and not back in the door before about six or seven.  On those days I need something quick and easy for dinner that everyone will like.  There are never any complaints about pasta.

Recently Barilla sent me some of its new range of high egg content pastas to try.  This is dried pasta and as close as you will get to fresh pasta.  The pasta has a 28% egg content and the eggs used are ethically produced free-range eggs.  I understand the egg content of other available pastas is around 10%.

Ribbons of pasta

Ribbons of pasta

The pasta performs very well.  It holds it’s shape, it has great texture and there is definitely a flavour similar to freshly made pasta.  It’s available in a few varieties including tagliatelle but today I used the pappardelle.

Normally with pappardelle I make a hearty ragu but that can be time consuming so this is a recipe for those times when you can only spare a few minutes in the kitchen.  From start to finish and with a lot of interruptions and others ‘invading my space’, I made this in less than half an hour.



With pasta that tastes this good, it’s great to let the flavour shine and not overpower the pasta by drowning it in sauce.  There’s plenty of taste in this mushroom vegetarian dish yet the flavour of the pasta still shines.

5.0 from 9 reviews
Pappardelle with Porchini Mushrooms
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
A vegetarian pasta dish that requires only a handful of ingredients and can be made in less than half an hour.
  • 250g packet Barilla pappardelle
  • 30g (half a cup) dried porcini mushrooms, washed and rinsed
  • 1 tbspn olive oil
  • 400g (14oz) mixed mushrooms (I used Swiss Brown and button), halved
  • 4 shallots, sliced finely
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 300ml (1¼ cups) pouring cream
  • 2 heaped tbspns grated parmesan
  • 1 bunch chives, finely chopped
  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to boil and cook pasta in accordance with directions on packet. Drain pasta reserving a little of the cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile...
  3. Place porcini mushrooms in a bowl and pour over 1 cup of boiling water. Allow to seep for 10 minutes then drain, reserving ¼ cup liquid. Chop mushrooms.
  4. Heat a large frying pan. Pour in oil then mushrooms, shallots and garlic. Stir for 5 minutes or until softened.
  5. Pour in cream and parmesan and season. Stir. Bring to the boil then remove from heat.
  6. Pour sauce over pasta. Add half the chives. Stir.
  7. Serve pasta topped with remaining chives. Sprinkle with extra parmesan cheese if desired.

Use a mixture of mushrooms for added flavour

Use a mixture of mushrooms for added flavour

Off to uni I go…

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  1. Five distinctions – well done you!
    And I’m sure you will ace any upcoming maths tests. 😉

  2. Well done you! A fantastic effort. You should be very proud as should all of your family. I really like Barilla pasta and papadella is my favourite. This sounds delicious with the dried porcini mushrooms. Good luck for the next semester….

  3. OK – Charlie : thought you were absolutely crazy to undertake this since just three months of working ‘somewhere’ could have clicked on your previous accreditations and brought you ‘up to date’ for possibly the next ten years! Well, you are doing it your way and there is NO such to do it but with ‘D”s in all your subjects!! Bravo!!!! I fervently hope that each one of us who graduated in whichever fashion does read this and say ‘me too’!!! Oh the delightful pasta is loved by all, but methinks all our thoughts are on standing up and saying’ go, Charlie, go’!!

  4. Congratulations and well done you!
    It all sounds like such hard work and yet you are coming through with flying colours!

  5. Wow fantastic, 5 distinctions is wonderful congratulations. Working with dementia patients must be very difficult. How lovely to bring a smile to their faces with a little treat. GG

  6. A lovely recipe. I love mushrooms and porcini with pappardelle pasta. ( maybe change the title bar though as there is a stray ‘h’ there that makes me think of little pigs).

  7. Congratulations on the high achievements. Nursing in a dementia ward must be very stressful. I wish you all the best.

    The pasta dish looks wonderful.

  8. Holy WOW Charlie, 5 distinctions. You are amazing, go you! I can’t imagine spending all that time working in the dementia ward, such an awful and saddening thing to witness. Loving your mushroom pasta, I was at the markets today, I picked up 6 different kinds of mushroom, they all just looked so yummy. Good I have found at least one way to use them. Yum!

  9. I am in awe of you. To go back to school with such fervor at our age is inspiring. And such a difficult degree too. (Five) distinctions is a new terminology to me, I’ve tried looking it up but there are too many regular words like it, what does it mean?
    Your pasta looks amazing. A dried pasta that tastes like fresh is promising. Love your plate, so pretty.

    • In most Australian learning facilities a pass in any subject is graded as: pass, credit, distinction or high distinction. Usually a ‘D’ means a mark in excess of 85% achieved and it may be 90%.. A high distinction is quite a special honour, often denoting a 95% mark or more – have an idea Charlie may reach that level also by the end of the Michaelmas semester! Actually a huge number of adults here do go on to further their tertiary studies: just about all of my friends and yours truly also are happier now than we ever were at uni in our 20s 🙂 !!!

  10. Fantastic news Charlie. Congrats and good on you. So much hard work and determination in you. This mushroom pasta looks great.

  11. Congratulations on a super first semester!!! I seriously don’t know how you do it!!! Your pasta looks fabulous—I’m all for 30-minute meals these days, too. And I’m not going to school. xoxo

  12. Congratulations! Five distinctions is fantastic, so pleased for you, that is a lot of hard work x

  13. Chgojohn says:

    Congrats, Charlie, on your fantastic progress! I do like how you think. Celebrate with pasta! Brava, Bella! 😀

  14. I can’t wait to try this new pasta, Charlie. I haven’t noticed the “new and improved” Barilla yet, but I’ll be looking for it. And I love mushrooms so this is a wonderful combination. Congratulations on doing so well your first semester and I am truly admiring how you are tackling this challenge. It can’t be easy! Good for you, Charlie.

  15. Oh, well done you!!!! Hearty congratulations… xxx

  16. Sunshine filled happy congratulations on your magnificent achievement of 5 distinctions Charlie – that is amazing! Here’s to the next 5 at the end of the year! I admire what you are doing, makes me a little ashamed to be at home not doing much.
    Gorgeous looking pasta dish, reminds me I haven’t made a pasta dish for ages.
    Have a wonderful and happy day.
    🙂 Mandy oxoxo

  17. Congrats Charlie. I knew you would do well. With a wit like yours I had no doubts. I just hope though when you have dementia someone in your house reads this recipe and makes pasta for you ( sadly you won’t remember).

  18. Congratulations Charlie! Well done! And hehe don’t listen to your Asian brother in law. I remember my mother saying that someone got 99% in the HSC. That was looked down on!

  19. Look at you go! I’m so full of admiration for you for all your hard work and keeping the house going too. So many distractions! I hope in spite of it all you are enjoying the experience or that at least you have moments that make it worthwhile. Now I’m not a mushroom eater, but I’ll be checking the pasta out it sounds fantastic.

  20. Congratulations on finishing your first semester and doing incredibly well. Here’s one big bear hug from me. I don’t know how you manage everything. But kudos to you.

    I love also that you brought chocolates for those suffering from dementia. Such acts of kindness may not seem like a big thing. But to the recipient they often are. Bless you, Charlie. We can each make a difference in this world with such care and kindness.

  21. Bravo! I could not do what you’re doing. I envy your motivation and stamina! A gorgeous pasta as well. I’d eat that year round!

  22. Hang in there! I know what you’re going through! Your pasta still rocks.

  23. Yikes Charlie, sounds like you are burning the candle at both ends and I thought you were busy before. Love this pasta dish, one of my favorites.

  24. Congratulations on finishing your first semester! And, what a great-looking pasta dish. I love mushrooms with pasta, and this would be a fantastic week-night meal.

  25. Charlie, congratulations what a great achievement and I hope you’ll have more to come for the rest of your studies. Indeed this is a great recipe that have never failed me in my home too, seems that everybody like this. I will definitely be looking for this pasta in my next trip to the store.

  26. This post was so emotional! I felt so sad reading about your experience working in the dementia ward, then snort laughed about your ‘Chinese fail.! But seriously – just wow! Congrats on 5 distinctions – I doubt I got that many during entire uni career. You are so inspirational. Plus mushrooms and pasta is heaven in a bowl. What a winter warmer x

  27. Congrats on the great results! You’ll tackle next semester with flying colors, I’m sure. Pasta is one of our standards — everyone likes it, and you can whip up a meal in a hurry. Mushrooms and pasta work so well together — this looks wonderful. Thanks!

  28. Congrats, Charlie.
    Good luck on your next semester!!
    O, and this food looks FAB. x

  29. You are amazing! Five distinctions, congratulations!
    Your pasta dish looks mouth watering delicious going to check my food markets for this high egg content pasta.

  30. Congratulations on your 5 distinctions, I’m sure that validates all the reasons you had for going back to school even though as Eha said, going back to work for 3 months would have caught you up – if I understood that correctly. Your family must be so proud of you.

    Your pasta looks wonderful. I love pappardelle with mushrooms and yours looks superb. With a tall glass of wine this would be a great celebratory meal. Best wishes in your next semester, I’m sure you’ll pass in flying colors!

  31. Danielle says:

    Belated congrats on your well-deserved distinctions! I am rather behind on your recent posts and have thoroughly enjoyed catching up. Full of admiration for all you are achieving 🙂

  32. Congrats on your exams! I love pasta and this creamy mushroom dish looks absolutely fantastic! 🙂

  33. The recipe looks great, but the main thing is: Congrats on your exams! Of course, it is what I would expect for you. I am in awe and full of admiration.

  34. Congratulations on a job well done…and definitely don’t study in Beijing. 😀 I always use Barilla pasta but I haven’t seen that specialty pasta in our market yet. Your meal sounds perfect for a busy night and oh so delicious.

  35. Congrats on making it through your first semester. And five distinctions is phenomenal! Well done you!

  36. I love this classical Italian inspired recipe a lot! In wintertime, I make my own pappardelle!

  37. Dementia is a very hard disease. I’ve been watching my sweet mother advancing further and further into it over the past 5 years. It’s been difficult. What amazed me were the nurses and caregivers that dealt with her and their empathy and care. I have such a high respect for them.
    I bought an electric pasta maker recently that makes 10 ounces of pasta in 15 minutes. Once of the fittings is for pappardelle, but I’ve never used that pasta before. Your recipe is very timely. Now I can’t wait to give this a try! Thanks Charlie!

  38. Love these big fat noodles with mushrooms – this is the perfect meal! So comforting. I’ve dealt with dementia in my family – it is such an exquisitely painful thing.

    But thank you for celebrating JOY with food!

  39. Congratulations! You are such an inspiration, my goodness, all the hard work and taking care that your family has a lovely pasta dish for dinner. Super woman! xoxo

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