With chestnut mushrooms and dried porcini mushrooms
This creamy mushroom pasta dish is made with a mixture of fresh mushrooms and dried porcini mushrooms which add masses of earthy mushroom flavour to this easy vegetarian meal.
The dish is quick to make from scratch and can be on the table in well under 30 minutes making it a great after work midweek meal.
Like many households, pasta is a firm favourite in our family. Good old spaghetti bolognese is always popular, but it is always good to have a selection of pasta dishes, so dinner never becomes boring.
Even if you ate pasta every day there is nor reason it should be repetitive as there is so much choice in both types of pasta and sauces to go with them.
This recipe has been adapted from a recipe I originally wrote for a book of mine 100 great pasta recipes (no longer in print). While it may not be the most colourful dish I love it because it is so quick and easy to make and is packed full of lovely mushroom flavours.
I’m inclined to say use whichever you have in your store cupboard or pantry. Whilst technically it may be considered important to match your pasta to the sauce, in many cases, I think you can get away with just using what you have to hand.
A keen cook or chef may prefer to be a little more fussy taking care to choose the correct pasta shape to match the style of sauce for the best overall eating experience. But in general, I like to play around and just see what works for myself without worrying about any rules.
I have found this sauce works pretty well with most pasta shapes but I would avoid the small delicate pasta such as orzo.
Because of the size of the mushroom pieces, I prefer not to serve with spaghetti, with tagliatelle being a better alternative if you want to serve with long pasta.
I’m trying to increase the amount of fibre and wholefoods in my diet, as all studies seem to show, that as a nation we are not eating the recommended daily amount.
One easy change to make is to switch to wholemeal pasta and so I have chosen this time to serve this sauce with a wholemeal pasta that I had to hand and I think because of the strength of flavour from the mushrooms it worked well. Some cream sauces I think are too delicate for wholemeal pasta which has a more robust flavour.
I've used a mixture of fresh and dried mushrooms. I used chestnut mushrooms as I think they have more flavour than regular button mushrooms but either will work.
Dried mushrooms have a really concentrated flavour, a little goes a long way.
Porcini mushrooms are the favourite in Italian kitchens but you could also use dried cepes or chanterelles. They need to be soaked before use for about 15 minutes. Then drained and cut into smaller pieces.
The mushroom soaking liquid will have lots of flavour too, so save and add it to stock for another dish rather than pour it away. Freeze in an icecube tray for later.
The dried mushrooms really make the difference and it is worth having some in the store cupboard for a tasty boost of flavour to any other mushroom dishes. I always add some to my mushroom risotto too.
You can use regular or low-fat creme fraiche in place of the double cream if you prefer. Single cream does not work as it tends to split when boiled.
A splash of sherry
Unless you have a particular reason for not using any alcohol in your recipes I highly recommend a splash of sherry in this dish. (Sherry keeps well so I have a bottle in the cupboard for cooking). Again, a little goes a long way. The alcohol itself is driven off in the steam as it boils but it adds some interesting flavour notes to the sauce.
You could also use Maderia or dry white wine or even a splash of brandy but I find sherry goes really well with mushrooms, try adding a splash to mushroom soup.
If you leave the alcohol out replace it with stock or extra mushroom soaking liquid.
Ready in about 20 minutes
With a little bit of forward-thinking you can have this dish on the table in about 20 minutes and that includes all the preparation.
First, bring a kettle of water to boil and then pour a little over the dried mushrooms to get them soaking.
Next, get all the other ingredients ready as described in the ingredient list, slicing the onions and mushrooms, crushing the garlic and chopping the parsley.
Reboil the water in the kettle and get the pasta on to cook before continuing with the sauce. Most dried pasta takes about 10 minutes so it should be ready by the time you have finished cooking the sauce.
Make the sauce combine with the cooked pasta and its ready to serve.
You could make the sauce ahead of time but given how quick it is to make I do not see any benefit from doing this and I think this dish is best served immediately.
The pasta dish is complete in itself but you could serve with a side salad if you liked. It doesn’t need cheese but a sprinkling of Parmesan on top is fine too.
A glass of dry Italian wine or even a small glass of dry sherry makes a lovely accompaniment.
Try the mushroom sauce with chicken or fish
While I have served this sauce with pasta it would also make a delicious sauce served with grilled chicken or fish.
Easy Creamy Mushroom Pasta step by step
Easy creamy mushroom pasta
- 25 g dried porcini mushrooms
- 450 g pasta
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 25 g butter
- 1 onion sliced
- 3 clove garlic crushed
- 250 g chestnut mushrooms sliced
- 2 tbsp dry sherry Madera or dry white wine
- 150 ml double cream (heavy cream)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- pinch grated nutmeg
- chopped fresh parsley
- Place the dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water and allow to soak for 15 minutes.
- Cook the pasta in plenty of lightly salted boiling water for 10 minutes or as directed on the packet.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil and the butter in a frying pan fry the onion for 2-3 minutes until beginning to soften and then add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Drain the soaked mushrooms reserving the soaking liquid. Roughly chop the porcini mushroom into smaller pieces then add the fresh and soaked mushrooms to the frying pan and fry for about 5 minutes stirring frequently until soft.
- Stir in the Madeira or sherry and allow it to bubble rapidly for a few seconds. Add 2 tbsp of the mushroom soaking liquid and the cream. Season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Bring to the boil and cook until thickened slightly, about 1-2 minutes.
- Drain the pasta and toss it together with the sauce and some chopped parsley. Serve sprinkled with a little extra parsley.