Mafalde with Caramalized Onions and Mushrooms

Mafalde, Pasta with a Side of History

by Barbara Lee on February 25, 2013

It was 1902 and Italy celebrated a new princess.  Mafalda Maria Elisabetta Anna Romana of Savoy was welcomed by her parents, King Vittorio Emmanuelle III and his wife Elena.  In honor of this royal birth, the palace chef devised a new ruffled ribbon noodle and christened it Malfalde.

Mafalda grew up during a time of war and unrest but within her palace surroundings she was able to nurture her interests in the arts which she inherited from her mother.  After World War I, Italy was politically and economically unstable, which helped give rise to Mussolini.  The King, unfortunately, ignored Mussolini’s abuse of power contributing to the fall of the Monarchy.


Princess Mafalda married Prince Philipp of Hesse in 1925.  He belonged to the National Socialist (Nazi) Party.  It was part of his job to act as an intermediary between the National Socialist Government in Germany and the Fascist Government of Italy.  In 1943, Hitler became suspicious of Malfalda’s allegiance and believed she was working against the war effort. Her father, the king, changed his political opinion and dismissed Mussolini at this time.  He signed an armistice with the allies creating further tension with Hitler.

Memorial of Mafalda

While travelling, Mafalda was arrested for “subversive activities” and sent to Berlin for further questioning.  Her husband was under house arrest and her four children were given sanctuary at the Vatican.  Mafalda was clearly being punished for her Father’s betrayal.  She was charged with sabotage for passing secret codes to her father and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp.  From palace princess to prisoner, Mafalda never lost her grace and dignity and did her utmost to comfort others.

She died within the concentration camp in 1944 after the Allies bombed an ammunition factory inside Buchenwald.  Her death was finally confirmed a year later.  Her body was reburied at Kronberg Castle in Hesse.

These ruffled ribbons of pasta will always serve as a remembrance of the once joyful princess who danced through her fairytale palace spreading her love for family, music and art.


Mafalde with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms and Breadcrumbs


Saute onions in butter.







Once onions are brown, deglaze with wine and add vegetable stock.






Start cooking mafalde.







Add mushrooms to onions.







Remove from heat, add breadcrumbs and combine.






Sprinkle with olives and parsley.






Mafalde with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms and Breadcrumbs


3 large pats of butter

3 large onions, sliced

½ cup white wine

1 ½ cups vegetable stock

3 ounces shitake mushrooms, sliced

1 Cup Panko breadcrumbs

Handful of black olives

Course ground black pepper

1 bunch of Italian parsley, chopped

1 lb. Mafalde Pasta



Melt butter in large pan over medium heat.  Slice onions into rings and add to the butter.  Stir frequently until caramelized about 15-20 minutes.  Add the white wine to deglaze.  Add the chicken stock and heat through.

Add shitake mushrooms

Meanwhile start cooking the pasta.

Drain olives

Finely chop the parsley

Remove from the heat and add the breadcrumbs to the onions and toss

Dish up the Mafalde and top with the onion mixture

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and olives.

Serves 4

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dane Struthers February 25, 2013 at 8:46 am

Thanks for the post, I enjoyed reading about Princess Mafalda and I’m going to try this pasta dish.


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