How to Make Mushroom Sauce for Pasta
Recently I purchased a container of crimini mushrooms just to have in the house for salads, sauces or soup. I didn’t use them up so I decide to make a mushroom sauce for pasta.
My wife and girls have been in Utah for the past few weeks so I’m home alone. My wife Meg typically plans our meals and then the both of us prepare them. With Meg gone, I’m making things up as I go along.
This dish was easy because I had all the ingredients in my refrigerator or in the pantry so I didn’t even have to go out shopping. I like to call these meals “what’s on hand” recipes.
Let’s look at some of the ingredients and I’ll offer you some substitutions.
Rigatoni pasta – a tubed shaped pasta like penne but larger and slightly curved and has ridges. Did you know the word rigatoni comes from the Italian word rigato or ridges. For this dish, you can substitute penne or any tube shaped pasta.
Cremini Mushrooms – or should I say “agaricus bisporus”? Yep, that’s what they are called in scientific circles. They are also the same as white mushrooms, button mushrooms, champignon mushrooms, Roman brown mushrooms and portobello mushrooms.
What makes them different is nothing but age with white button mushrooms being the youngest and portobello being the most mature. The cremini mushrooms are also more mature than white button mushrooms and in my opinion have more flavor.
Olive Oil – this recipe calls for olive oil. The olive oil is to saute the garlic and shallots. You can easily substitute vegetable oil if you like but don’t use expensive extra virgin olive oil. Once you heat it, you’ll loose a lot of the benefits and flavor or the evo. Extra virgin olive oil is better for finishing a dish after the cooking process is over.
Veal Stock – easy to make if you have veal bones but I don’t think most of us have a bunch of veal bones lying around. There are some good commercial products on the market but you can also substitute beef stock if you can’t find veal stock.
Rigatoni with Fresh Mushroom Sauce
- 1 pound rigatoni pasta
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large shallot or 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup red wine or white wine
- ¾ pound crimini mushrooms sliced
- 1 cup veal stock or beef stock
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated plus more when serving
- crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- Bring a large pot of water seasoned with salt to a boil. Add the rigatoni pasta, stir and cook until al dente.
- While the pasta is boiling, heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the oil and when hot, add the shallot. Saute for 2 - 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic, stir and cook until the garlic turns golden.
- Carefully, off heat, deglaze the pan with wine.
- Back on heat, add the mushrooms, stir and cook until they release their liquids and begin to brown. This will take longer than you think because mushrooms hold a lot of liquid.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the stock,fresh thyme and lemon zest. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionaly until the sauce reduces by about a third.
- Add the heavy cream, stir and simmer until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Turn off the heat and add the Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine.
- Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
- When the pasta is done, drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
- Add the mushroom sauce to the pasta and stir to combine.
- Serve to individual plates or bowls and top with some grated Parmesan cheese.