You’ll crave rigatoni with mushrooms and Pancetta on either side of winter, when the crisp cool air pulls you into fall or when the thaw hits and spring starts to warm everything up. This is a recipe that can bend with the seasons, depending on the vegetables you use. It can be made with fall mushrooms and frozen peas, as we do here, or brightened up in spring with asparagus, fresh peas, and a hint of lemon zest. It’s the kind of warming comfort food that Nonna would make, and you can bet she’d send the leftovers home with you.
Bring 6 quarts of water and 3 tablespoons of kosher salt to a rolling boil.
In a deep saute pan, add the Pancetta and gradually render over medium-low heat. Once rendered and crisp, raise heat to medium, add the olive oil and onion and cook until translucent and tender, 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, fresh black pepper, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir and then let cook until tender. Raise the heat to medium-high and brown the mushrooms slightly, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes – be careful not to burn the garlic in the process. Add a ladleful (about ½ cup) of salted water from the pasta pot, deglaze the mushroom pan then reduce heat to low.
Drop the pasta into the boiling salted water and cook until al dente. Reserve ½ cup pasta water and drain the pasta.
Add the pasta to the mushrooms. Add the thawed peas, ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and ¼ cup of the pasta water, or more as needed to make a smooth, thick sauce. Remove from heat and fold in the chopped herbs. Season again with fresh black pepper.
Enjoy your Rigatoni with Mushrooms and Pancetta!