Recently I re-created a meal I’d enjoyed at a country restaurant in the Tuscan hills. The flavors were typical of that region, vibrant and straightforward. My guests, all real meat-lovers, had no idea they were eating vegetarian.
The pasta with porcini mushrooms is a perfect cold-weather dish and reheats well, so it can be done ahead. The antipasto should be made at least a day ahead for the ingredients to develop their full flavor.
A green salad sprinkled with Gorgonzola cheese would make a nice transition to the dessert, an orange almond cake that is showered with powdered sugar just before serving, rather than frosted. As for the wine, Chianti goes well with this entire menu.
Mandel is a cookbook author.