Winter Comfort: Creamy Mushroom and Herb Sauce with Whole Grain Pasta

Mushrooms in a rich, creamy cheesy wine sauce laced with herbs top whole wheat pasta for this hearty dish.

Long or short cuts of pasta both work with this sauce – I enjoy linguini with it. –RR


  • About 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound crimini mushrooms, wiped and thinly sliced
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • About 2 tablespoons thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 large fresh bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • About 2 tablespoons double-concentrated tomato paste, from a tube
  • About 1/2 cup dry sherry or Marsala wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • A few grates of nutmeg
  • 1 pound whole wheat or whole grain pasta
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (a couple of handfuls), plus some to pass at table

Optional garnishes:

  • Chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • Chopped flat leaf parsley or watercress


Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.

In a large, deep skillet, heat the EVOO, three turns of the pan, over medium to medium-high heat. Melt the butter, then add the mushrooms and brown well, 12-15 minutes. Add the shallots, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and stir for a few minutes more until very fragrant. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate. Add the sherry or Marsala and stir to combine; stir in the cream and reduce the heat to low; season with a little nutmeg. Allow the sauce to gently reduce at a low bubble while the pasta cooks.

When the water is boiling, add the salt and cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water just before draining. Drain the pasta.

Add some cheese to the sauce; stir and add the drained pasta to the pot. Toss to coat, using a little starchy water to incorporate, if necessary.

Serve in shallow bowls with more cheese to pass at table. Add texture and more flavors to this dish by topping with toasted chopped hazelnuts and parsley or watercress.

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Rachael Ray