Some restaurant dishes are hard to replicate, but a great truffle pasta isn’t one of them. Instead of shelling out upwards of $US50 for a single serving of fettuccine tartufo, why not whip up a family dinner that’s bursting with the fabulous fungi for a whole lot less? Here are a few options for making a high-end truffle pasta on a low-end budget.
Frolic in the wide world of truffle cheeses
Few ingredients partner better with pasta than salty, melty cheese. There’s a huge array of truffle cheeses available now in big box grocery stores and local specialty stores, and what’s more, they’re affordably priced. Check the packaging to see if the cheese includes real truffle and truffle extracts, or if it’s artificially flavoured with synthetic truffle oil. Real truffle pieces and extracts produce a much more robust flavour, which means you can use less of it to make a poppin’ plate of pasta. Many truffle cheeses cost less than $US12 and can be used to make multiple servings.
To make your decadent truffle entrée, start by boiling your pasta as usual. I like a long strand for this, so I lean toward fettuccine or pappardelle. While your noodles are cooking, heat up a skillet large enough to hold the pasta. Over medium-low heat, add some of the truffle cheese to the pan. I used a fifth of the Boursin package for one serving of pasta. Add a couple teaspoons of the hot pasta water. Once the pasta is just shy of al dente, add the hot pasta to the skillet. Stir and toss for a couple minutes until the cheese has turned into a sauce and the noodles are well coated. This works best with the soft, melty cheeses. I suggest using the burrata as a dramatic topper for a serving of truffle pasta.
Get fancy with truffle oil and truffle salt
For those who aren’t big on cheese, or have dairy sensitivities, there are affordable truffle options out there for you too. Try drizzling your plate of cavatelli with a flavorful truffle oil and sprinkling on truffle-infused sea salt. The truffle oils and salts I’ve tasted feature well-rounded, gentle truffle notes on their own, but you’d need quite a bit of a single product for the flavour to really come through, likely resulting in over-salting or drowning the dish in oil. For a pronounced truffle flavour and balanced dish, use a combination of both.
While oils are usually pricier than cheeses, they’re typically olive oil bases, and used more sparingly. Ideally, a bottle of truffle oil will flavour more servings of pasta and last you longer than cheese. As with truffle cheese, check out the packaging to identify if the flavour is natural from actual truffles being used, or if the flavour is artificial. Artificial truffle flavour is alright, but if you have the choice, opt for the natural flavour.
The perfect truffle storm
Combine all three truffle elements, cheese, oil, and salt, to make a resounding truffle pasta. One that tastes so good the table becomes silent with everyone staring at their food and shaking their heads in disbelief. I you’re the type to roll out your own fresh, handmade pasta, I’d say you might even be ready to start a restaurant with a truffle dish like that.
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