A hearty, creamy, delicious and meatless pasta sauce, this pasta with Mushroom Ragù is the a meat-free alternative to Bolognese. Serve with a big, short pasta or swap the pasta for polenta, if you like.
- Ready in about 30 minutes!
- A great vegetarian dish that is still hearty enough to satisfy everyone.
- Serve this flavourful mushroom ragu with pasta or try it over polenta or with gnocchi to change it up.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Mushrooms – any mushrooms you have or enjoy are just fine here. I love to use a mixture of mushrooms when I can and I prefer to start with whole mushrooms that I cut myself. Then I get the rounded bits, which make the sauce more interesting, I think. For 12 oz. of mushrooms, you’ll need a standard (8 oz) tray and a half, so pick up a couple of trays for this one.
Tomato Paste – I’m a big fan of tomato paste tubes and I always have them on hand. They are “concentrated” tomato paste, so a little goes a long way. They are also great for times when you just need a bit of tomato paste, so you don’t have to open a can. If you don’t have a tube, just use the tomato paste from the can (you can freeze the leftover tomato paste!).
Marsala Wine – I love the flavour of Marsala wine with mushrooms. Look for Dry Marsala (not sweet). The brand available here that I use is Speroni Dry Marsala. It can be found with the fortified wines, such as sherry, at the liquor stores. Red wine is a great substitute for the Marsala or for a no-wine option, you can use chicken broth or even water to deglaze the pan.
Cream – Heavy (whipping) cream is recommended for its high fat content, which guards against the cream splitting with the acidic tomato pasta sauce. You can use a lighter cream, but it may split and your sauce may be thinner.
Pasta – I always think a chunky sauce needs a chunky pasta, so I suggest a short, but substantial pasta, such as the Paccheri I’ve used here. Rigatoni or penne are other good options.
- I started with a mix of white and cremini whole mushrooms. I love to cut mushrooms myself, from whole, as it give a nice variety of shapes. This recipe is also a great use for concentrated, tube tomato paste.
- This time, I used Paccheri pasta, which are huge tubes. This chunky sauce is great with any short pasta, such as Rigatoni or Penne, etc.
- After sauteeing the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes, add the tomato paste and cook with the onions until it starts to brown.
- Meanwhile, add the pasta to boiling and salted water.
- Add the mushrooms, then add a little Marsala (or red wine or water), to deglaze the pan.
- Stir and cook until the liquid is mostly gone and the mushroom are soft.
- Add the cream to the pan.
- Add pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce.
- Add the cooked pasta.
- Add a knob of butter.
- Add some Parmesan and basil and/or parsley.
- Stir and cook a few minutes until the noodles are well coated in sauce, adding additional pasta cooking water, if needed, to loosen the sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve garnished with additional Parmesan cheese and additional basil and/or parsley.
Top Tip! If you are still draining your pasta in the sink, I urge you to re-think that old habit. First of all, carrying a pot of boiling water across the kitchen has always been fraught with danger. Secondly, there is rarely a need for pasta to be that dry. Finally, you’ll never have to worry about having “pasta cooking water” handy and ready to use when cooking. Instead, use a large spider strainer and take the pasta straight from the pot to the skillet. Any extra moisture on the pasta will quickly cook off as the pasta cooks with the sauce.
- Change up the mushroom varieties or use a mixture, to change up the flavour and texture of the dish.
- Try this mushroom ragu with polenta or gnocchi instead of pasta.
- Add some cooked, cubed chicken to the pan if you like.
Storing and Re-Heating
This pasta is best enjoyed cooked fresh. Left-overs can be refrigerated for a couple of days. Reheat in the microwave or a skillet, loosening the sauce with a splash of water, cream or chicken broth, as needed.
More Pasta to Love!
Get the Recipe: Pasta with Mushroom Ragù
- 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
- Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
- Pinch Salt
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup double-concentrated tomato paste, or can use regular tomato paste
- 12 oz. mushrooms, sliced, such as button, cremini, shiitake, oyster etc., tough stems removed
- 1/3 cup Marsala wine, or red wine (or water, for wine-free)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream, 35% b.f.
- 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, plus more as needed
- 8-10 oz. rigatoni, or other short pasta
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1/4 cup Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving
- 2-3 Tablespoons Fresh basil or parsley, chopped, plus more for serving
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions. Drain, reserving the pasta cooking liquid.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until softened and beginning to turn golden around edges, about 2 minutes (don't let the garlic burn or it will be bitter).
- Add the tomato paste to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms then add the marsala. Season with a pinch more salt. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add cream and pasta cooking water to the skillet. Add cooked pasta and a knob of butter. Cook, stirring, until the sauce coats the pasta well, adding additional pasta cooking water if sauce is too thick. Stir in Parmesan and basil.
- Taste and season with additional salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve garnished with additional Parmesan and fresh basil or parsley.
Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!
Very delicious! Restaurant quality flavours!
So glad you enjoyed it, Carolyn :) Thanks so much!
Substitute for pasta water if serving mushroom ragu over polenta? Thanks!
Hi Susan, you could just use water. To replace the starch from the pasta water, you could stir a tiny bit (just a pinch) of cornstarch into the water.