Growing up in an Italian family, I ate pasta no less than once a week. If my mom didn’t make any during the week, I was sure to get my fill at my grandma’s on Sundays. The thing about traditional Sunday dinners in my Italian family? Pasta was always, always, always served with red sauce. The only exception was a rigatoni, Italian sausage and green pepper pasta dish that my grandma used to make with an olive oil dressing. Even then, she still made a batch of “regular spaghetti” with red sauce… you know, just in case someone felt like eating that, as well. Italian grandmas, you truly have to love them.
Since I grew up on a strict red sauce diet, I’ve been doing some experimenting with other types of pasta dishes. I’ve found that I really love a simple, creamy sauce, wide pasta noodles and mushrooms. This dish is a compilation of all of those elements, and utterly fantastic.
The sauce for this recipe is silky smooth and deliciously creamy, although it requires no actual cream. The secret? Using some of the liquid that the pasta was boiled in – it’s very starchy after boiling the pasta, and when paired with some butter, creates a perfect sauce with a creamy texture. For this dish, I also threw in some cubed fontina, which melts beautifully into the sauce. It’s creamy and has a mild flavor, which pairs really well with the cremini mushrooms. This just might be my new favorite pasta dish!
Are you from a red sauce or non-red sauce family? What are your favorite types of pasta?
Cook the pasta until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain and reserve ¾ cup of the cooking water.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté half of the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes; transfer to a plate. Repeat with 2 tablespoons butter and the remaining mushrooms, transferring them to the plate with the rest of the mushrooms.
Add the shallots to skillet and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms back to the skillet, along with the wine; cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the reserved cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons butter and season with 1 teaspoon salt.
Reduce the heat to low and add the cooked pasta, cheese and parsley, tossing with the sauce until the pasta is coated and the cheese starts melting. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.