Karista's Kitchen Pasta vegetarian

Pasta Cortona

linguine with napa cabbage and mixed mushrooms drizzled with truffle oil

Pasta Cortona

How could I travel to Italy and not visit the mountain top village of Cortona?  I resisted.  Truly I did.  I didn’t want to be one of those blurry eyed, dreamy looking tourists on a quest to visit a place they’ve read about in a novel or seen on television in a movie.

With a clever grin and knowing eyes, my darling husband kindly dispelled my silly notion by telling me I’d already been walking around for days like a blurry eyed tourist with eyes the size of saucers.  Hmmm… and I thought I was being rather cool and collected.

Early one morning, my husband, who is a sport, no – he’s a super sport,  kindly obliged my longing to see Cortona. We hopped a train and arrived at the small, more modern town of Camucia Cortona which lies at the bottom of the mountain where Cortona is so beautifully is perched.

Camucia Cortona Train Station

Camucia Cortona Train Station

Once inside the walls of the medieval city I felt myself becoming the blurry eyed tourist, eyes wide with amazement of this ancient city.  The architecture so unique with steep narrow streets and views of the surrounding countryside.  Breathtaking.

Nonni's of Cortona

Nonni’s of Cortona walking home from mass.

Ranger Craig and I spent the day walking the steep and narrow streets, talking to the locals, snapping more pictures than I thought was possible, touring the churches and viewing art of the Renaissance.  A magical day that ended with food.  Actually, I think we ate our way through Cortona.  Pasta, soups, salumi, pastry, wine, more wine and then caffe.

Trattoria in Cortona

Trattoria in Cortona

One of the most delicious meals I dined on in Italy was in Cortona.  A dish of fresh handmade linguine tossed with savoy cabbage in a light wine and butter sauce, topped with shaved truffle and fresh pecorino.  A little heaven in a bowl.

dog in cortona,Italy

A furry friend in Cortona saying hello as we passed by

mountain garden in Cortona, Italy

Mountain garden in Cortona

Piazza Garibaldi in Cortona, Italy

Piazza Garibaldi in Cortona

Now that I’m home, I wanted to create a lovely version of that dish.  Something fresh, simple but flavorful.  We don’t have an abundant of truffles here in the states so I decided to make this an easy dish to prepare with local mushrooms and my favorite Napa cabbage.  And of course, if you wish, a drizzle of black truffle oil over the top.  A tribute to the lovely day in Cortona.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Pasta Cortona

Serving Size: 3-4


  • 12 oz. linguine, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1-2 oz dried porcini mushrooms (I love porcini mushrooms so I use 2 oz)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 leek, white part only, root trimmed, halved and then thinly sliced
  • 1 medium shallot, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups sliced Napa cabbage (about ½ a medium cabbage)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Drizzle of black truffle oil (optional, but it’s really good!)
  • Shaved aged Pecorino for garnish


  • Prepare the pasta according to package directions. When draining the linguine, reserve ½ cup of pasta water.
  • Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a sauce pan and pour boiling water over the dried mushrooms. Give them a stir, cover and let them sit for about 20 minutes. When they are soft, drain the liquid, let them cool for a moment and then lightly chop the mushrooms.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat the butter and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When the butter/oil is hot, add the shallots and leeks and sauté until wilted and fragrant.  Add the garlic and saute one minute longer.
  • Stir in the chopped porcini mushrooms and Italian parsley. Let them cook for about 1 minute and then add the white wine. Let the wine reduce by half and then stir in the heavy cream, grated parmesan and pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Next toss in the sliced Napa cabbage, and gently toss with the mixture, adding the additional olive oil as needed.
  • Take the skillet off the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
  • Add the linguine and ½ cup of pasta water to the cabbage and mushrooms. The sauce will thicken as it cools. However, if the sauce seems a bit thin, place the skillet back over medium heat and let the sauce cook for a few minutes which will thicken the sauce.
  • Transfer the pasta to a platter or individual serving bowls and drizzle with truffle oil if desired and shaved aged pecorino cheese. Serve immediately.
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  • Reply
    November 4, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Wonderful Karista! Love the pics and the prose. The dog pic just became my new screen background. Precious!

    • Reply
      November 5, 2013 at 1:43 am

      Thank you Laurie! Isn’t that dog just the sweetest! We walked by him twice and the second time he whimpered so we’d walk over and give him a little love. 🙂

  • Reply
    Maria | Pink Patisserie
    November 4, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    So lovely to see some of your photos! What an enchanting place! Beautiful recipe too!

    • Reply
      November 5, 2013 at 1:44 am

      I have more photos than recipes to post! LOL! It was truly enchanting and I’m so glad we visited Cortona. Even if I felt like a complete blurry eyed tourist. 🙂

  • Reply
    November 5, 2013 at 11:20 am

    I felt the same when we visited St. Emillion a few years ago…simply agog at the surroundings. And the food! And the wine! 🙂
    Fabulous recipe…I’m for anything with mushrooms.

    • Reply
      November 6, 2013 at 2:07 am

      LOL! That’s the word… simply “agog”! I think I walked around with my jaw dropped to my knees. I kept saying “oh wow” look at that! My husband still chuckles about it. Thanks so much, enjoy the recipe!

  • Reply
    Anneli Faiers
    November 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    What a beautifully simple pasta dish….just how I like my pasta. Not smothered in cream or too rich. But soft and delicious where you can taste all the ingredients. Yum.

    • Reply
      November 6, 2013 at 2:09 am

      That’s exactly the way I love my pasta to Anneli. And it’s the perfect way to enjoy fresh homemade pasta. Thanks for stopping by!!

  • Reply
    November 6, 2013 at 12:13 am

    What a beautiful post Karista! I’ve never been to Italy but I’ve been yearning to travel there for years now. Your beautiful pictures made me feel like I was there for a minute… thanks for sharing the sights and experiences with us. LOVE the look of your pasta dish. That gorgeous pile of mushrooms and cabbage with the chilli flakes and truffle oil? Absolute heaven in a bowl. I will definitely try this, and eat every bite whilst looking at your photos of Cortona. A mini-blog-holiday! Thanks lovely xx

    • Reply
      November 6, 2013 at 2:10 am

      You’re so welcome Laura. So glad you enjoyed the pictures. The pasta I dined on in Cortona was absolutely heaven in a bowl. Had to re-create something similar to enjoy at home.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Wonderful images Krista- it’s 5.30pm my time at the moment and I’m starving for dinner. Not a good time to be cruising gorgeous recipes when I’m a) hungry and b) have no kitchen to whip this up in.
    So great you have the memories and inspiration of Italy to work with. I love seeing what comes from them.
    xx wendy

    • Reply
      November 11, 2013 at 11:43 am

      Thank you Wendy! LOL! So funny, I always cruise my fave blogs in the evening after dinner and it still makes me hungry.

  • Reply
    Coco in the Kitchen
    November 6, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    I can’t believe you didn’t get a job and just stay there!
    Love the pics and this pasta dish. Thinking about making my own pasta for once.
    Let’s see how I do!

    • Reply
      November 11, 2013 at 11:43 am

      Oh how I was tempted Coco! Thanks so much and hope you make your own pasta. Homemade pasta is so much better than dried. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jim O'Donnell
    November 8, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    What a fun blog post!!! And the dish….ok….thats what we are having tomorrow night. How did you go there without my permission?

    • Reply
      November 11, 2013 at 11:41 am

      LOL! Next time the Storytellers will have to meet in Cortona 🙂 We shall dine at the Trattoria that prepares this lovely dish… which of course included shaved truffle. 🙂

  • Reply
    Karen (Back Road Journal)
    November 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Cortona is a picture perfect Italian town…love your photos. I like your adapted version of the delicious pasta dish you had during your visit.

    • Reply
      November 11, 2013 at 11:39 am

      Thanks so much Karen. That was a grand day. It’s such a unique place in Italy and of course because it’s attached to one of my favorite books, it made for a most enjoyable day. I’ve got to swing by your blog and check out all your fabulous travels and photos. Love reading about your travels Karen!

  • Reply
    November 11, 2013 at 9:39 am

    I actually love Napa cabbage in all forms so this dish sounds like perfection to me. What gorgeous sites and photos, Karista. I’m so glad you got to Cortona. I have a friend who lives just outside of that area and would love to visit if I ever get to Italy again.

    • Reply
      November 11, 2013 at 11:37 am

      Thanks Betsy! Oh my, living near Cortona. That would be dreamy! Thanks for stopping by. Hope you’re having a beautiful Fall season. 🙂

  • Reply
    November 11, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Karista, I love your photos and hear of your recent travels! And I love the simplicity of this dish and all the wonderful flavors! Another winner!

    • Reply
      November 12, 2013 at 10:49 am

      Thanks so much Danny! I have sooooo many more photos to share and it’s hard to choose. LOL! I too love simple dishes, especially when using such fresh ingredients. Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Jane Cox
    November 12, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Karista: what a great trip for you. I enjoyed the photos very much and the food looks delicious. I will be in Washington over the holidays and would love to see you.

    • Reply
      November 12, 2013 at 10:48 am

      Thanks so much Jane! Hope you and Doug are doing well. 🙂 I’m not in WA. We moved to Oregon, the Willamette Valley. A beautiful location but I do miss Seattle. Hugs to you and Doug. Karista

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