Food & dining

Seasonal Recipes

Recipe: An embarrassingly simple mushroom sauce is tossed with spaghetti

Spaghetti with mushroom sauce.
Sally Pasley Vargas
Spaghetti with mushroom sauce.

Serves 4

When you see perfectly plump white mushrooms at the market, make this embarrassingly simple sauce to toss with spaghetti (or linguini), plenty of parsley, and grated hard cheese. To clean mushrooms, either rub them with a paper towel or rinse vigorously and briefly in cold water. If you’re short on time, the second method works well, as long as you use the mushrooms right away (wet mushrooms turn mushy quickly in the fridge). Shake the mushrooms in a colander, and let them air dry for a few minutes so they’re easier to pulse in a food processor. The chopped mushrooms and garlic are sauteed with white wine and parsley, then tossed with spaghetti. You’ll make this easy sauce again and again.

pounds white button mushrooms, cleaned, dried, and quartered
1large clove garlic, thinly sliced
2tablespoons olive oil
Salt, to taste
¼cup white wine or water
4tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1pound spaghetti or linguini
½cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, or other hard cheese, or more to taste
Extra olive oil (for sprinkling)

1. In a food processor, pulse the mushrooms and garlic until they reduce to a rough, granular texture; stop short of turning it into a wet paste. You can chop the mushrooms and garlic by hand, if you like.

2. In a skillet large enough to hold the pasta later, heat the olive oil and add the mushroom mixture, a generous pinch of salt, and the white wine or water. Bring to a brisk simmer and stir well. Cook, stirring often, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the liquid in the pan has nearly evaporated and the mushrooms are tender.


3. Stir in half the parsley and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes to infuse the mushrooms with parsley flavor. Remove from the heat, taste for seasoning, and add more salt, if you like.

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4. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta for 8 minutes, or until it is tender, but still has some bite. With a heatproof measuring cup, scoop out 1 cup of pasta cooking water and set it aside. Drain the pasta into a colander but do not rinse.

5. Tip the pasta into the mushrooms and toss over low heat for 2 minutes, adding some of the pasta water if the mixture seems dry. Add the remaining parsley, cheese, and a generous sprinkle of olive oil. Taste for seasoning and add more cheese and salt, if you like. Caleb Barber

Caleb Barber can be reached at