Creamy mushroom pasta sauce sounded really good on my first night at home, after I have traveled for business through 3 different states last week and have gone out to restaurants for dinner almost every single night for the last 10 days. Homemade pasta dishes are something I always crave after lots of traveling and eating out. How can you not crave something that looks like this:
While I really enjoyed the social interaction that comes from having restaurant dinners with co-workers and friends, I realized once again what a home-buddy I have become and how I longed to be back in my kitchen.
Long time ago, however, there were times when I did enjoy eating out a lot and it was the norm to have dinners out at least 3 times a week. The norm of the recent years for me, though, is to eat out maybe once a month – I wonder if that’s normal or have I become home-bound too much? So not having dinner (or breakfast, or lunch) at home 10 days in a row sort of threw me out of my routine. You know how if you stop working out for a while and then it’s hard to get back to the gym again? That’s how I feel: so glad to be back in my kitchen, yet a bit lost not knowing where to begin and what to cook. Pasta with mushrooms sounded like an easy and safe choice (plus I also baked some cookies with macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips – in my next post).
I was very happy with my first homemade dish after 10 days of restaurant food! To top it all, it turned out to be quite versatile, too. You could definitely eat this creamy pasta loaded with vegetables as a stand-alone, vegetarian dish. It also makes a surprisingly great side dish for a grilled steak, pork or chicken. In fact, this pasta recipe happens to combine all of my 4 favorite sides for steak in one: mushrooms, creamed spinach, caramelized onions, and creamy pasta with cheese.
So, feel free to eat this pasta as a stand-alone vegetarian dinner or add a piece of grilled steak, pork, or chicken.
Creamy mushroom pasta with caramelized onions and spinach
Prep time: 50 min
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 onions, medium or large, sliced
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 10 or 15 small mushrooms sliced (I used shiitake with stems removed)
- pinch of salt
- 3 cups spinach
- 8 oz fettuccine pasta
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Makes 4 servings.
1) First we need to caramelize onions. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on high heat in a large skillet, when oil is heated, add sliced onions and cook on high heat for about 10 minutes, constantly stirring with spatula. The onions should start to brown, but without burning (a couple of onions may be burnt here and there, but overall they should not be charred). Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking onions for 10 more minutes, continuing to stir, as onions brown even more without burning. At this point add just a pinch of salt over onions. Continue cooking for 10 more minutes on medium or low heat, stirring occasionally to make sure onions don’t stick to the bottom of the pan or burn. Total you should have cooked onions for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle onions with a small amount of balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan. Using spatula, mix the onions, scraping the bottom of the pan and coating onions with a pinch of balsamic vinegar you just added.
2) After you have started cooking onions, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in another pan, and add sliced mushrooms (I used shiitake with stems removed, you can use any small sized mushrooms). Add just a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook mushrooms covered for about 20 minutes, occasionally stirring. Keep in mind that if you use other mushrooms (not shiitake) the cooking time will be much shorter, only about 5 minutes. Shiitake mushrooms need longer times to cook. If you use regular button mushroom – cook them for only about 5 minutes until they soften.
3) Add cooked mushrooms to the pan with caramelized onions, add 3 cups of spinach and stir on low heat just until spinach wilts.
4) Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain.
5) Add heavy cream, milk, Parmesan cheese and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the mushroom-onions-spinach mixture on medium-low heat and mix. Add pasta to the creamy sauce, stir to coat on low heat for about 5-10 minutes until Parmesan cheese melts and starts to coat pasta as well.
6) Serve on warm plates (warmed in the oven) as is, or with more parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.