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Mushroom Tomato Pasta

Our vegetarian Mushroom Tomato Pasta recipe hits the spot when you crave Italian comfort food without meat. After you make it once, you’ll want to make this easy, tasty pasta at home again and again.

Mushroom Tomato Pasta with Fresh Basil on Window Sill
Image: ©2foodtrippers

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

Mushroom Tomato Sauce Mise en Place
Simple ingredients create a luxurious sauce in this recipe. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Our mushroom tomato pasta sauce is easy to make the following simple ingredients:

  • Black Pepper
  • Basil
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Chili Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Onion
  • Pasta
  • Salt
  • Wine

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. You can buy passata rustica online if you can’t find it at your local markets.

Mashing Tomatoes
We use a potato masher to mash canned tomatoes. Yes, we get the irony. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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.

Pro Tip
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.

Mindi with Mushroom Tomato Sauce Recipe
Mindi gets saucy when she follows our Mushroom Tomato Pasta recipe. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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.

 | Image: ©2foodtrippers

We cooked this mushroom tomato sauce with leftover white wine and paired it with a medium-bodied red during our meal.

Pro Tip
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

Onions Sautee in Pan
You need a good skillet to properly sautée onions in olive oil. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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.

Chopping an Onion
Chopping an onion may make you cry but the end result is worth a few tears. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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.

Mushrooms Sautee in Pan
In this recipe, you’ll want to sautée mushrooms until they create a fond on the bottom of the skillet. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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.

Mushroom Tomato Pasta Sauce
The sauce will become viscous at it cooks. It’s a beautiful thing. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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.

Pasta in Ladle
We used rotini (also known as fusilli) for this pasta dish… this time. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Pro Tip
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.

Snipping Basil
We like to snip fresh basil and add it directly to the simmering sauce. This is a step that you may or may not replicate in your home kitchen. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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!

Pro Tip
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.

Did you make this pasta dish? If so, please rate the recipe below.

Mushroom Tomato Pasta with Fresh Basil
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4.48 from 17 votes

Mushroom Tomato Pasta

This vegetarian Mushroom Tomato Pasta recipe hits the spot when you crave Italian comfort food without meat.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 2
Calories: 502kcal


  • 15 ounce whole peeled tomatoes (can)
  • ½ pound fresh mushrooms (sliced medium thick)
  • ½ onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • ½ teaspoon Italian chili flakes (or 1 teaspoon quality chili oil)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • cup dry wine (red or white)
  • ½ cup fresh basil (to taste)
  • ½ pound pasta
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (black and/or white – to taste)
  • grated cheese (Pecorino-Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano for serving)
  • fresh basil (for serving)


  • Open can and pour tomatoes into a small mixing bowl. Either squeeze the tomatoes with your hands or mash with a potato masher. Set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in 10 or 12-inch frying pan. over medium heat. Once heated, add onion along with pinches of course salt, freshly ground black pepper and white pepper. Cook onions until translucent and soft.
  • Add garlic and chili pepper. Cook 30-60 seconds until garlic becomes fragrant. (You don’t want it to brown and burn.)
  • Turn heat to medium-high. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Toss around the pan. Sauté until mushrooms have released their liquid and liquid is almost evaporated. (There should be a brown fond forming on the bottom of the pan.)
  • Pour wine into the pan and deglaze by scraping brown bits (fond) off the bottom of the pan. Cook until most of the alcohol has burned off and the wine has almost evaporated.
  • Add tomatoes and their liquid, making sure to get every bit of tomato product from the bowl. (You can add water to the bowl to get the last bits of pulp.) Tear or cut fresh basil and add to the pan. Gently stir.
  • Simmer for 30 minutes, adding water as necessary to prevent scorching.
  • Boil water for pasta. Be sure the pasta water is well salted. (It should taste like seawater.)
  • Cook sauce until thick. Turn heat to low.
  • Drop pasta into boiling water. Cook per instructions on the pasta box.
  • Four minutes before the pasta is ready, crank the heat on the sauce to medium-high. Add 2 ladles of pasta water into the sauce.
  • Boil down the sauce until it reaches a viscous consistency. (You should be able to just barely see the bottom of the pan and it should slightly thick, not soupy.)
  • Drain pasta in a colander and immediately transfer to the pan with the sauce.
  • Mix pasta and sauce for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Serve with grated cheese and freshly snipped basil.

Pro Tips

  • You can replace canned tomatoes with Passata Rustica (240 grams).
  • You can use any type of pasta in your pantry.
  • You can double the recipe for a family of four or if you’re entertaining friends.

Estimated Nutrition

Calories: 502kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 20g | Sodium: 317mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 10g
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About the Authors

Daryl and 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. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.


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We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

We purchased the ingredients and tools used to create this recipe.

Original Publication Date: May 9, 2020

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