A spectacular way to showcase tasty mushrooms – in a simple, juicy, ridiculously delicious Mushroom Pasta! This is 6 ingredient magic at its finest, a pasta made the real proper Italian way. Plus my little trick to make buttery mushrooms without using a whole block of butter!
And Dozer fans – don’t miss the snippet of him dashing into the house when his big black nose got a whiff of this!
Meat-Free Wednesday is back!
I love this time of the year. The weather is warming up, taking Dozer to the beach is actually enjoyable again (ice cold Winter water just doesn’t seem to bother him in the slightest but it certainly bothers ME), and some of my favourite fruits and vegetables are in season which means they’re such great value!
The every-day white button mushrooms are affordable all year round, but actually, they are the least flavourful of all the mushrooms. So spring is when I go mushroom mad, buying multiple brown paper bags stuffed to the brim with Swiss Brown and Portobello Mushrooms when they’re half the price they usually are.
I stuffed giant Portobello Mushrooms with Ricotta and Spinach, topped them with panko and parmesan, then baked them in a garlicky tomato sauce. And as for the Swiss Brown mushrooms – well, I wanted to make something where you can actually really taste the mushrooms, rather than drowning them in loads of creamy sauce. So I opted for this very classic Mushroom Pasta.
I used to think that the best way to sauté mushrooms was with loads and loads of butter or olive oil. Anyone who has pan fried mushrooms will know that the minute mushrooms hit the skillet, the bottom layer of mushrooms soaks up the oil, leaving the top layer untouched.
As you sauté the mushrooms, they start to leech water, creating moisture. But still! That first layer of mushrooms lucky enough to hit the skillet first stole all the butter, leaving the remaining 80% of mushrooms butter free!
So in a bid to make this buttery-mushroom world fairer (i.e. for ME), my solution is to reduce the amount of butter melted in the skillet, add a bit of olive oil (so you can heat the butter more without it burning and also because I find olive oil gets soaked up less by mushrooms). Then AFTER the mushrooms are golden (i.e. water leeched so they are no longer butter-sponges), add a small knob of butter. Watch the video and be amazed how far 1 tablespoon of butter stretches!
Quite often when I make really simple pastas like this for friends, they assume that I’ve made some kind of sauce because the pasta is slick with sauce that actually sticks to the pasta, rather than being watery and pooling at the bottom of the bowl.
But actually, I don’t. All I do is use the proper Italian way of making pastas by tossing the pasta + sautéed mushrooms in starchy pasta cooking water which magically transforms into a sticky “sauce” that clings to every piece of pasta. The technical term is “emulsification” (i.e. when starchy pasta cooking water gets tossed with butter in mushrooms), and regular readers are probably sick of reading about it because I write about it in every single pasta recipe I share.
I really hope my photos have captured how juicy and slick with “sauce” the orecchiette pasta is, I struggled a bit. I just don’t want anyone to think that this is a dry boring pasta – it’s about as far from that as it can be! – Nagi x
- 200g / 7 oz orecchiette pasta (or 160g/6 oz of other pasta) (Note 1)
- 300 - 350g / 10 - 12 oz Swiss Brown Mushrooms (Note 2)
- 2 - 3 tbsp unsalted butter, separated
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (or ¼ cup store bought grated)
- Parsley, finely chopped
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta into the pot when you start cooking the mushrooms.
- Cook pasta per packet instructions minus 1 minute. RESERVE 1 mugful of pasta cooking liquid, then drain pasta.
- Meanwhile, slice mushrooms into 4mm / ⅙" thick slices.
- Melt 1 tbsp of butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add garlic and onions. Cook for 1 minute.
- Turn heat up to high. Add mushrooms and cook until water has leeched then evaporated, and the mushrooms start to turn golden - around 5 minutes.
- Add remaining 1 - 2 tbsp butter. Stir until melted.
- Turn heat down to medium high. Add pasta, about ¾ cup of reserved pasta water and parmesan. Toss gently or until water reduces and thickens into a saucy glaze that coats the pasta. If the pasta dries out, add more pasta water.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Remove from stove and serve immediately, garnished with fresh parsley and parmesan cheese.
But this recipe can be made with any pasta you choose. You won't need as much pasta because Orecchiette is smaller, I just feel you need more to have a decent sized bowl!
2. I urge you to use any mushroom other than the stock-standard white button mushrooms which have the least flavour! I used Swiss Brown.
3. Variations: Thyme also goes really well with this pasta because mushrooms + thyme = best mates. Sometimes I will add a splash of cream to the mushrooms, but it's not a make or break, just a "nice to have when you're feeling indulgent".
4. PS I provide a range for butter quantities because - well, the more the better. But the minimum is 2 tbsp of butter + 1 tbsp olive oil, otherwise the pasta starts to get dry. No need to measure accurately, just eye ball it!
5. Nutrition per serving, assuming 2 (generous!) servings.
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Mushroom Pasta nutrition per serving, assuming 2 (generous) servings.
In case my photos didn’t capture how juicy this pasta is, this video sure does! PS Dozer fans – don’t miss the sight of Dozer dashing in when he caught a whiff of this in the Mushroom Pasta video! ❤️
LIFE OF DOZER
There is no such thing as a peaceful lunch in this household. Always eyes on you.