Recipes

simplest mushroom pasta

Lately I’ve been trying to take as many stupid walks for my stupid mental health (a funny/wonderful TikTok trend from over the winter) as possible because if the last two years have taught me anything, it is that outside time is a very key ingredient in me being a warm, upbeat, charming person, the kind of person who never hits her snooze alarm four times and then wonders why she’s always in a rush. Okay, fine, it’s not an exorcism, but it does feel surprisingly close. More often than not, I end up swinging through the Greenmarket, which leads to me bringing home whatever looked good that day — most recently, spicy arugula, pinto potatoes, fresh flowers, and a bag of fresh cremini mushrooms. A few days after that, almost without fail, I realize I have mushrooms to use and I’ve landed on a wildly simple pasta preparation that, in a rare moment of mealtime harmony, everyone eats willingly. Honestly, I should have led with this mic drop.


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This is a non-recipe recipe, as in, maybe you’ll read and follow it once, but I hope you’ll take it from there after that. The base idea is to cook a thinly sliced vegetable in butter, olive oil, and garlic until it’s tender and well-seasoned with a concentration of flavor. I add a splash of wine or marsala for an extra layer, but it’s not mandatory. We then expand it into a sauce that stretches over pasta, and let them cook together for a minute until they’re harmonious. From here, you can add a big spoonful of something luxe — my favorite is crème fraîche but if not that, mascarpone or heavy cream would work. The result isn’t a creamy pasta, but one that tastes cozy and enriched. I always think it needs a little green on top and I get that from the chives on my terrace that come back every year despite the fact that they’re utterly neglected by me — the pot lost most of one side during construction last year, but they’re out there flowering this week like nothing happened. We should also be so inspirational, right?

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Previously

6 months ago: Fall Bliss Salad
1 year ago: Classic Shortbread
2 years ago: How I Stock The Smitten Kitchen
3 years ago: Braised Ginger Meatballs in Coconut Broth
4 years ago: Fig Newtons and Cripsy Tofu Pad Thai
5 years ago: Granola Bark
6 years ago: Caramelized Brown Sugar Oranges with Yogurt and Potato Pizza, Even Better
7 years ago: Why You Should Always Toast Your Nuts (Please!) and Obsessively Good Avocado-Cucumber Salad
8 years ago: Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons and Baked Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms
9 years ago: Spinach and Smashed Egg Toast and Bee Sting Cake
10 years ago: Over-the-Top Mushroom Quiche and Banana Bread Crepe Cake with Butterscotch
11 years ago: Blackberry and Coconut Macaroon Tart
12 years ago: Baked Kale Chips and Almond Macaroon Torte with Chocolate Frosting
13 years ago: Artichoke-Olive Crostini and Chocolate Caramel Crackers
14 years ago: Spring Panzanella and Lemon Yogurt Anything Cake
15 years ago: Arborio Rice Pudding and Gnocchi with a Grater

Simplest Mushroom Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen
  • Print

The recipe is shown here with 1 pound cremini mushrooms — the size bag I buy them in — but it’s actually really nice with 1.5 pounds too, if you’ve got it. Use any kind of mushrooms you like, or a mix, just slice them thin and season them well. I’m using a shape called fusilli pugliese here.

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound dried pasta, any shape you like
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter
  • 1 pound fresh cremini mushrooms, sliced thin (see note)
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Glug of dry marsala or white wine (optional)
  • 1/3 cup crème fraîche or mascarpone, or heavy cream
  • Handful chopped chives or parsley, to finish (optional)
  • Grated parmesan or pecorino

Bring a large pot of very well-salted water to a boil and cook pasta in it until 1 to 2 minutes shy of package suggestion. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water before you drain the pot.

Meanwhile, heat your largest sauté pan over high heat. Once hot, add the olive oil and butter. Once the butter has melted, add the mushrooms in as close to an even layer as possible and don’t move them for about 3 minutes, until they’re browned underneath. Sprinkle with garlic and a good amount of salt and pepper (seasoning is everything here) and give them a stir. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are soft and tender and any liquid expelled has cooked off, about 5 minutes. Add the marsala and cook, stirring, until it disappears. Taste the mushroom mixture; you want it very well-seasoned at this point.

Add your drained pasta and half of the reserved pasta water and cook, stirring, until the pasta absorbs most of the liquid, adding more of the reserved pasta water if necessary to keep it a little saucy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the crème fraîche. [If using heavy cream, because it’s thinner, I’d cook it it onto the pasta for 30 to 60 seconds on the stove.] Adjust seasoning, if needed, and finish with chives and cheese. Eat right away.

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56 comments on simplest mushroom pasta

    1. deb

      I more often have creme fraiche around, I do prefer the slight tartness. [Also, I spread it on toasted sourdough under a poached egg yesterday with some of the arugula for lunch and I’m ruined. Butter, who?]

  1. MK

    I do something similar, and I know it sounds kind of odd, but I often use cream cheese for that ‘little bit of something creamy.’ Tastes surprisingly lux.

    1. MKN

      Hi Deb! Thanks always for your great recipes! I frequently struggle to come up with a protein item to complement pasta dishes like this one. Any quick easy ideas?

      1. Mel

        I would pair creamy pasta like this with pan-roasted or grilled chicken breast/thighs. If you have a sous vide machine, you could make sous vide chicken breast.

      2. Sara

        Quick, easy & super delicious! This will definitely be in the rotation going forward. I did 1.5 lb of mushrooms bc we love them. As Deb states, you have to make sure you season the mushroom mixture really well and taste it along the way. I used mascarpone, which was wonderfully creamy and let the mushroom flavor shine. 10/10!

  2. alison

    I have been making something somewhat similar to this, but roasting the mushrooms in the oven with a full head or two of garlic and some balsamic glaze, with a log of goat cheese nestled in the middle.

    When goat cheese is a puddle, stir in some just barely al dente pasta and a little pasta water to thin the cheese and coat everything. Serve over arugula with more balsamic glaze. SO GOOD.

    I stole the idea from https://lifeofadoctorswife.wordpress.com/2021/03/11/my-take-on-the-tiktok-baked-feta-pasta/

    1. Conflicted Primal

      Hi Alison, Thanks for suggesting that goat cheese recipe, it looks amazing! I only do goat or sheep’s milk cheese and it is hard to know what is a good substitute for cream (maybe goat/dairy-free yogurt?) but logs of goat cheese are great!
      Now I’ll have to try both Deb’s recipe and the one you suggested!

    2. Courtney

      Thanks for that link! I do love the TikTok recipe in theory but in practice all those tomatoes hurt my stomach. I might try that this week (with some of Deb’s here suggestions incorporated).

  3. Mary

    We do this all the time with mushrooms, or broccoli, or greens. We add a heaping spoonful of white miso instead of dairy & it’s delicious.

  4. EK

    I love mushrooms so as soon as I saw this recipe I knew I was making it for dinner. Overall it was good but tasted a little one-note — not sure how I could have added more flavor. I do wish I had added the chives or parsley which might have helped. Also, I used sherry vinegar since I didn’t have cooking wine, but surprisingly that didn’t seem to amp things up very much. Maybe red pepper flakes next time? I do recommend using 1.5 lbs of mushrooms like Deb recommends. That felt like the perfect amount of mushrooms relative to the pasta.

            1. Gail

              I added a teaspoon of miso to this per the comments above, but I was underwhelmed by this recipe overall. It wasn’t greater than the sum of its parts, which I was hoping for, and which I’ve come to expect from SK’s sneakily simple but usually delicious recipes.

              It needed a TON of salt, and I think next time I’ll roast the mushrooms.

              Plus, if you use 1-1.5 pounds of mushrooms, what in the heck kind of ginormously wide pan are you using to fit them in one layer to get any kind of browning?

    1. EK

      Circling back to say the leftovers were delicious! I added more salt and red pepper flakes and the garlic really shone in the 2-3 days after. I’ll def make this again!

  5. I made my version of this recipe the day before Deb posted it. It’s kismet! We are plant based, dairy free and gluten free. So I have to adapt all recipes, Deb you’re an inspiration as you encourage us to be playful and experiment with your recipes. . As another commentator wrote, I always roast my mixed mushrooms crimini, shiitake, oysters., reduces the fat and released the richness of them. Since we Can’t eat alliums, garlic, onions shallots, etc (allergies to sulfur) I caramelized thinly sliced fennel bulb. Sautéed in vegan butter, then add spinach, dill nutmeg, haricot Verts, splashes of champagne or white wine. Soy free White Miso paste, made from chickpeas, by The Miso master. Sometimes I’ll add celery with the fennel. Sometimes snap peas, instead of green beans. Nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan finishes it nicely with more arugula and fresh herbs. Thanks Deb for your inspiration. P.S we too have wild chives and garlic ramps that return every year. Just Wish I could cook with them, :( alas they’re pretty to behold.

  6. Erika H

    I “accidentally” made this last week because I had started prepping your wild mushroom pate recipe…got to the blending stage and got interrupted. Tossed the cooked mushroom/shallot/Marsala mix into the fridge and it became the magic ingredient all week. Egg scramble? Add some mushrooms. Need some oomph with sautéed greens? Add some mushrooms. And the last day was pasta—took the rest of the arugula and put it in the colander before draining the pasta and then poured the boiling pasta water over it to wilt. Put the pasta and wilted greens back in the pot with some pesto and the rest of the mushrooms…stir to just warm the mushrooms and pesto. Top servings with Parmesan cheese (or more decadently with baby popcorn shrimp warmed in the toaster oven!). The perfect “get dinner on the table” companion. I’m definitely making more tomorrow.

  7. My husband and I had that same walk lightbulb during dumb covid! We also love mushrooms – I will make this for sure. I will probably add a little truffle oil at the end with a little plain yogurt.

      1. I ended up using some heavy cream that needed to go – I did also add a little truffle salt at the end. I barely used any pasta water – like maybe a 2 Tbsp? and think that would work well with the yogurt/ truffle oil idea.

  8. Tatiana

    Easy, quick and open to multiple variations. I like it. I’ll have to make it next time Dear Husband goes out of town on a business trip as he detests mushrooms. Sigh.

  9. Riley Walker

    I make a similar version, and have added different combinations of zucchini, summer squash, bacon/pancetta.

    One thing to be careful of — if you use a lot of salt in the pasta water, and you season the mushrooms, it can be too much salt. And I love salt. But do be careful.

  10. Maggie

    This looks so good! I love mushrooms. My kids actually like the mushroom flavor but freak out if they actually see a mushroom. Wondering if I could grind them up in the food processor to make them think it’s ground beef. Worth a try for this wonderful dish!

  11. Gina

    Made this! Loved it! Made as written with parsley instead of chives. Just my hubby and I, so we thought next time we’d reduce the amount of pasta and enjoy a bowl more heavily weighted with mushrooms. A squeeze of fresh lemon on top couldn’t miss either. Thanks for the delicious dinner!

  12. Gina

    This is sure to become a regular! It comes together quickly – so simple and satisfying. I used what I had on hand including a pound of white mushrooms, 12oz. box of farfalle, mexican crema in place of crème fraiche and everything else as stated in the recipe. With a salad and toasted sourdough it made a delicious dinner for three happy adults.

  13. T

    Made this for dinner tonight and it was good. I added in some dried thyme, red pepper flakes, and fresh spinach. Next time I make it I think I will add chopped, sauted shallot for extra flavor. It seemed a little bland. The ingredients used makes it similar to Chicken Marsala so adding some precooked chicken would be yummy too.

  14. Anna

    Made this last night and it was great! We had half a bundle of asparagus, and not a full pound of mushrooms, so I added the asparagus in with the mushrooms to saute and it was a winner! Nice and quick, the kids ate around the veggies but liked the flavor, so that’s a hit.

  15. Tamar

    Question on kid eaters for this Deb – I love mushrooms and have started to get my older kids to eat them willingly from time to time, but my 5-yo is still a hard no. On that chance that you have a similarly picky eater in your household – do you find success in serving this and instructing said hypothetical picky eater to pick around the mushrooms, or are they too intertwined to make that a viable possibility. Signed, mushroom-lover-who-wants-to-make-this-for-dinner-without-separate-course-for-preK-tyrant.

    1. deb

      My daughter is hugely picky but seems to like sauteed mushrooms, so we’ve gotten this to work. However, it depends on my mood. If I’m really craving something and no kid wants it, I’ll make it anyway and they’ll have to deal. Other times I’m convinced they eat more vegetables if they’re on the side, anyway, and don’t fight it. [We are not going to talk about the time I had the audacity to put broccoli in mac-and-cheese, instead of near it. Probably my biggest flop in years.]

  16. Catherine

    I made this for lunch today but didn’t have Crème Fraiche or Marscapone so I used sour cream. It was yummy!

  17. Mike

    Made this tonight and loved it! It has an almost Stroganoff vibe to it — the sauce isn’t as heavy but the flavor profile is all there, especially if you go with crème fraîche and then chives as the finisher.

    Only note I’d make is that even my largest sauté pan (an admittedly smallish 10-inch) was nowhere near big enough for this recipe. The mushrooms completely filled it before cooking down, which prevented me from browning them properly. They were probably more steamed than sautéed. And then a full pound of pasta absolutely overwhelmed it. I had to transfer the whole thing to a stockpot at that point or I’d have food all over the stovetop.

    Next time I’ll just start in the stockpot, and I’ll focus on boiling off the mushroom moisture before adding extra oil and butter to brown them at lower heat — a trick I got from an old Cooks Illustrated recipe for sautéed mushrooms and thyme.

    Can’t wait to experiment with this one a little more!

    1. deb

      Whoops! I’d meant to link to them. They’re my favorite tiny potatoes and I get them at Norwich Meadow Farm in the Union Square Greenmarket (but you can apparently order them online too, although I’m sure they’re a lot less at the stand). They are marbled red and yellow and have a pretty yellow flesh inside; they’re closest to a Yukon gold or German butterball. Can I live without them? Yes. Do I buy them whenever I’m there? Absolutely.

  18. Lily

    Just made this and I loved it! For two portions I used 150g of pasta and one 250g punnet of pre sliced mushrooms, which made this a super easy meal. Stirred in some frozen green beans when the mushrooms were nearly done, and used sour cream as the dairy. I have some Boursin in the fridge which I bet would work really well for this too!

  19. Ellen

    Made this last night for dinner. We loved it. Added some onions and basil because I had them. Delicious and really only took 20 minutes thank you. Can’t wait to get the new book I have it pre~ordered.

  20. Pam

    If you don’t have crème fraiche and marsala, I successfully subbed cream cheese and a little splash of sherry. It was a delicious comfort food dinner! Thank you Deb.

  21. jane

    This is basically the vegetarian mushroom stroganoff I make on cold rainy days! It’s a great recipe for cozy vibes.

  22. Meagan

    We made this, along with your Hummingbird Cake for our Mother’s Day treat this weekend, and both were perfect.
    I enjoy your writing almost as much as I do your recipes. Thank you for maintaining this corner of the internet as a nice place to land!