White truffle pasta is probably the most luxurious and decadent of all Italian pasta recipes. This recipe for tagliolini with white truffle comes from Piemonte where most of these precious fungi grow. Because white truffles are so aromatic, you only need a small amount and very few other ingredients to enjoy this special dish.
Tagliolini al tartufo bianco.
It’s truffle season here in Northern Italy and tagliolini are among the most popular pasta types eaten with this king of the Italian kitchen. Truffles are most definitely an acquired taste and not everybody likes them. However, those who do will tell you there’s almost nothing better in the world of mother nature’s culinary delicacies.
Truffles in Italy.
There are basically two main types of truffles, black and white. Black truffles are harvested in autumn and winter and can be found in a number of parts of Italy, including here in Veneto where I live. Because they are more common than their white cousin, they are less expensive, but still highly valued in the kitchen.
There are also summer black truffles known as ‘scorzone’ in Italian. These truffles are foraged from the end of May to the end of August. They can be found throughout Italy and even in parts of Spain and France.
White truffles, on the other hand, are rarer. Here in Italy they are found mostly in the Piemonte (Piedmont) region, most famously, in the countryside around the cities of Alba and Asti, as well as in Marche near Urbino, in Molise and Abruzzo and in Tuscany near the town of San Miniato.
White truffles are so highly prized that they sell for thousands of euros per kilo. The current price is around 400 euros per 100g (approx 3.5 ozs)! Because of their value, strong aroma and taste, white truffles are used quite sparingly in cooking.
The most common method of serving them is simple with just butter, some grated Parmigiano cheese and pasta, such as tagliolini. This is how they eat pasta with white truffles in Piemonte and how we served the white truffle we bought at the Alba White truffle fair in November.
Tagliolini pasta looks like very narrow tagliatelle. In fact, the main difference between the two pasta types is in the cut, rather than the dough. However, tagliolini from Piemonte (known locally as tajarin) is often very thin and usually the dough is egg-yolk rich.
In restaurants in Piemonte, you can see it on the menu as ’30-40 yolk tajarin’ meaning they use up to 40 egg yolks per kilo of flour to make the pasta. Of course, it is very rich. But it’s the perfect pasta to pair with white truffles! I used ready made fresh tajarin for this recipe. However, you can use normal tagliolini or even tagliatelle instead.
The Alba white truffle fair.
Visiting the Alba white truffle fair has long been on my bucket list. We went last November and it was an amazing experience. The rural surroundings of Alba are where the most white truffles in the world come from.
Every year, the city holds the white truffle fair at the weekends from the first week in October to the first week in December. This is the season for white truffles.
The Alba White Truffle fair has been in existence since 1929. Hundreds of thousands of people visit it from both Italy and other countries. The main section of the fair is the white truffle market where you can see displays of truffles (white and black) by trifulau (truffle hunters) and truffle merchants or traders.
Cooking with white truffles.
Because truffles, particularly white ones, have such a strong taste they aren’t usually served with many other ingredients. This recipe for tagliolini with white truffle is the simplest and most traditional way to eat white truffle with pasta.
Ingredients in white truffle pasta.
Pasta: As mentioned above, white truffle pasta is usually served with tajarin from Piemonte, or normal tagliolini. You can aslo use tagliatelle.
White truffle: Because fresh white truffles have a strong flavour and aroma you only need 7-10 grams (0.25-0.35 oz) of shaved truffle per person. This means that a truffle weighing 30-40 grams (1-1.4 oz) will be enough for 4 servings of tagliolini with white truffle.
Black truffle: You can also make this recipe with black truffles. Italians usually use around 20 grams (0.7oz) of shaved black truffle per person as they are milder than white.
Butter: Unsalted butter is best for this recipe. Nearly all Italian butter is unsalted. The butter is what adds some creaminess to this dish.
Cheese: Not all white truffle pasta recipes include cheese. I have made this recipe with it and without. If using grated cheese, the most common is Italian Parmigiano Reggiano. However, this cheese isn’t vegetarian as its made with animal rennet. For a vegetarian version use vegetarian parmesan or omit the cheese.
Step by step instructions.
Step 1: Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again. Cook the pasta al dente. Fresh tagliolini only takes only 2-3 minutes.
Step 2: While the water is boiling, clean the truffle with a damp cloth and then grate/shave half of it. You will need a special truffle shaver to do this.
Next: Melt the butter in a large skillet or frying pan that’s big enough to hold the pasta too.
Step 4: Add the truffle shavings and some pasta cooking water to the butter. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet. Mix the pasta and butter together and add some Parmigiano, if using.
Step 5: Cook and toss the pasta and butter over a low heat for less than a minute and plate. Serve with more truffle shavings on each plate.
What to do with leftovers.
This is a pasta dish that rarely has leftovers. But, if you do have, then keep them in the fridge in a sealed container for 1-2 days and reheat in a skillet with some more melted butter. Freezing isn’t recommended as the truffles will spoil.
White truffle pasta is probably the most luxurious and decadent of all pasta recipes. Because white truffles are rare and expensive, they aren’t easily available. But, they can be bought online during the season or if you visit the Truffle fair in Alba, you can buy some.
However, you can also make this recipe with black truffles. Whether you use black or white truffles, I’d love to hear how this dish turns out if you make it. Please leave a comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page. Looking forward to hearing from you.
If you don’t have a truffle shaver, you can use a mandoline or even a sharp vegetable peeler instead.
Because fresh white truffles have a strong flavour and aroma you only need 7-10 grams (0.25-0.35 oz) of shaved truffle per person.
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Other pasta and truffle recipes on The Pasta Project! (You can use white or black truffles)
- Tuscan ricotta gnudi with black truffle
- Pasta alla Norcina
- Tagliolini with taleggio and truffle
- Pappardelle with walnut sauce and truffle
- Pasta with Truffles and Mascarpone
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If you are interested in learning how to make homemade pasta and different types of gnocchi, check out my shop page for some great video online courses from my friends in Rome! Nothing beats learning to make pasta from Italians! Plus while you’re there why not order a copy of one of my pasta recipe cookbooks or checkout some recommended pasta making tools?