“Cookies and Cream” pasta is an easy and elegant dish for a college student

It’s not what it looks like.

By Sarah Alessandrini

Something about La Fiaschetteria Pistoia made me crave red wine. Maybe it was the dim lighting, or the elegant yet cozy atmosphere, reminiscent of my grandparent’s living room, but the second I walked through the door, I no longer wanted my usual pinot grigio. A waiter set down the wooden crate of empty bottles with handwritten labels of their wine selection. However, I was already set on a house red, just as I already knew I wanted the black truffle pasta, one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. 

I paid a visit to the Italian restaurant in Manhattan’s East Village (there’s a location in the West Village as well) during my semester in New York City. The memory of my first time trying truffle pasta resurfaced in Wegmans earlier this semester, when I found a little jar of black truffle spread for sale. I could eat pasta every night, as long as I shake up my recipes. So I splurged on the truffle spread to see if I could recreate the dish at home. 

Black truffle pasta from La Fiaschetteria Pistoia. Photo by Sarah Alessandrini.

Instead of searching for a recipe, I did some research and found hard cheeses, like pecorino or parmesan, pair best with truffle. With my busy college-kid routine, I don’t like going through the trouble of making sauce separately, so I mixed the truffle spread and my favorite grated pecorino romano – along with some other ingredients – right in the pot of pasta, then boiled and drained. The finished product didn’t so much resemble the dish I splurged on in New York City, topped with fresh-shaved truffle, but instead reminded me of a bowl of cookies and cream ice cream. Nevertheless, it was delicious. 

A truffle is a mushroom-like fungus, and it’s more boujee than it sounds. Truffles are a rare find, growing throughout central Europe around tree roots. A whole truffle can sell for hundreds of dollars. I found a jar of black truffle spread in Wegmans for $6

Truffle spread or any kind of truffle oil is well worth the investment. It lasts long and just a little dash will make the simplest foods, like grilled cheese, mac and cheese, or any pasta, taste more elegant. 

So while there’s no real cookies and cream in this recipe — sorry if that’s what you were hoping for — if you make this dish right, you can impress your friends with your culinary expertise, or fool them into thinking you like milk and cookies in your pasta. 

Homemade black truffle pasta. Photo by Sarah Alessandrini.

What you’ll need: 

  • Black Truffle spread
  • Choice of pasta (about half a box for one serving)
  • Grated Pecorino Romano (or any hard cheese of your choice)
  • About 1 tablespoon ricotta cheese
  • Black Pepper
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil (Optional)

Fettuccine best captures the truffle flavor and pairs well with creamier cheese sauces in general. But when I first made this recipe, I used Barilla-brand mezzi rigatoni, which resembled little cookie pieces. So if you want to play into the bit, rigatoni is the way to go. But if you’re trying to get the most out of your truffle spread investment, I’d try fettuccine or some kind of spaghetti. 

Cooking Instructions:

Salt your pasta water and boil over medium heat. Once boiling, add in your pasta and boil for about seven minutes, or until cooked to your liking. Once the pasta is ready, drain the water. I like to drizzle a little bit of olive oil to reduce stickiness, but the black truffle spread is fairly oily, so keep that in mind when adding additional oil. I like to add an extra pinch of salt before mixing in the truffle spread. You can use as much or as little spread as you like, but only about a teaspoon will do, especially if you’re new to truffles and are not sure if you’ll like it. Then, mix in the grated pecorino — again, to your liking — and a dollop of ricotta cheese to give the mixture or the “cream” a thicker, sauce-like texture, to play off the cookies and cream illusion. Top with fresh ground pepper to bring out the earthy flavor of the truffle. Serve hot in a dish or a bowl. I also recommend enjoying with a nice red wine. 

Fun Fact: 

My dog Enzo is a lagotto romagnolo, a breed known for being excellent truffle hunters in Italy.

Sarah and Enzo. Photo by Sarah Alessandrini.

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