Although we’re neither Italian (by birth) or vegetarian (by choice), we often eat pasta dishes and vegetarian food when we cook at home. Sometimes we combine the two as is the case with one of our favorite meals – Mushroom Tomato Pasta.
Daryl developed this recipe over decades based on techniques he learned through practice as well by devouring cookbooks written by culinary touchstones like Marcella Hazan and Lidia Bastianich. The result is an easy-to-follow mushroom tomato sauce recipe filled with wholesome ingredients.
Mushroom Tomato Sauce Ingredients
Our mushroom tomato pasta sauce is easy to make with simple ingredients including tomatoes, onion, garlic, fresh basil, chili pepper (for a spicy kick), olive oil, wine, salt and pepper. You probably have most of these ingredients in your kitchen already but, if not, you can easily find them in markets around the world.
Since we live in Europe, we often replace canned tomatoes with passata rustica. We discovered the versatility of this Italian tomato product when we lived in Naples and it’s readily available in Lisbon grocery stores.
The recipe works just fine with canned tomatoes; however, we like that glass passata containers don’t impart any of the off-kilter flavors sometimes found in canned tomatoes. We also like that passata tomatoes are already crushed, making them quick to use in a pinch.
Many chefs swear by imported San Marzano tomatoes and, if you want to splurge on a can, go for it. Personally, we’ve found the difference negligible in the finished tomato sauce but, as always with cooking, the better stuff you put in, the better stuff you get out.
Whether you use canned tomatoes or passata rustica, you’ll want to buy quality tomatoes as opposed to generic store brands. While we’re all for saving money, this recipe turns out better when you use better tomatoes. The same goes for the olive oil.
You’ll notice that our recipe calls for either dry red or dry white wine and you may be wondering which is better. The answer is simple – it doesn’t matter.
Since both wine types work equally well in this recipe, use a bottle of wine that you already have open or one that you plan to drink with your dinner. We find that both red and white wines add an excellent dry, acidic zip to the sauce.
We cooked this mushroom tomato sauce with leftover white wine and paired it with a medium-bodied red during our meal.
Refrigerate any wine bottles that you don’t finish and use them in recipes like this one. Typically, wine has a longer shelf life for cooking compared to drinking.
How To Make Mushroom Tomato Pasta
Mushroom and tomato pasta is an easy recipe for beginners. You don’t need to buy any special equipment though we recommend investing in a stainless steel skillet and a high-quality chef’s knife for this and other recipes.
It’s no secret that it’s important to have a sharp knife in the kitchen. Having a solid stainless steel frying pan will allow you to develop a good, flavorful layer of fond which will add an excellent umami element to your sauce.
You’ll start the recipe by slicing, chopping and mincing the mushrooms, onion, garlic cloves and chili peppers to create an organized mise en place. The rest of the recipe will fall into place and requires the most basic of cooking skills.
If you look on the internet, you’ll probably find lots of opinions about the best mushrooms for spaghetti sauce and how to cook them. As for us, we like to make our mushroom pasta with fresh whole white mushrooms that we cut into thick, chunky slices.
Our recipe calls for a lot of mushrooms and they can be any variety. Since mushrooms cook down as they release their fluid, more is better in this dish. After all, the first word in the recipe is mushroom.
If you have access to better mushrooms like criminis, oysters or even more exotic wild mushrooms like chanterelles or porcini -we say use them. The addition of great flavors and textures will elevate your finished sauce.
We don’t recommend a certain type of pasta since any type of noodle works well in this recipe. You can use whatever’s in your pantry.
Mushroom Tomato Pasta Recipe
Once you make this pasta dish a few times, you probably won’t need to look at the recipe when you make it again and again. It’s that easy and that good.
Plus, you’ll love spending under 60 minutes to create a satisfying dinner and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!
We like adding mushrooms to spaghetti sauce for an earthy meatiness with fewer calories and less fat than a meat sauce. However, you can replace the fungi with ground Italian pork sausage (removed from its casing) or seasoned ground beef if you’re craving savory protein.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.