There are some nights when you come home so exhausted that making dinner might just push you over the edge. The problem is, you really want a comforting home-cooked meal to help take the edge off of a stressful day. Conundrum!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been there. As a result, I’ve developed a rather impressive repertoire of quick pasta dishes that can be whipped up in under 30 minutes. There is something about pasta in a homemade sauce that can chip away at any foul mood. One of my new favorites is mushroom marsala pasta. This light and slightly creamy sauce is complemented by hearty cremini mushrooms and a hint of thyme. It’s the perfect quick meal for a night when your patience is running low.
Weeknights are not the time to bust out the pasta machine. As much as I love making fresh pasta, this is just not an option on most nights. Luckily, Trader Joe’s just started carrying a delicious egg pappardelle. Seriously, this pasta almost rivals the fancy imported stuff from my local Italian specialty store–for a fraction of the price. It’s just the noodle to take this mushroom marsala to the next level. Trader Joe’s also sells a very affordable Marsala for around six dollars. Be sure to purchase the dry version, not the sweet. Thank you, TJs!
Finally, I like to use shallots in place of onions in this recipe because they give the sauce a more delicate flavor that doesn’t overpower the mushrooms. This dish is great when you are in a time crunch, but it also looks impressive enough for casual entertaining. I only had half a pound of mushrooms in the fridge, so the pictures reflect a half batch of pasta.
Mushroom Marsala Pasta
Loosely adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis
Yield: 3-4 servings
*Recipe updated on 1/13/12
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 small shallots, finely chopped
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms, de-stemed, gently cleaned with a damp paper towel, and sliced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning pasta water
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup dry Marsala wine
- 3/4 pound pasta (pappardelle works well)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for sprinkling on top
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)
- Squeeze of lemon to finish (optional)
- Place the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent them from burning. Add the mushrooms and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Saute, stirring occasionally, until all the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms have cooked down, about 5-8 minutes.
- Turn heat up to medium-high and add the thyme sprigs to the skillet if using. Add the Marsala and continue cooking until almost all the wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Once the Marsala mixture has cooked down, pull out the thyme sprigs and set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and add to the skillet with the marsala mixture. Add the parmesan cheese and heavy cream and mix until incorporated and heated through. Season the pasta with freshly ground pepper and salt to taste.
- Distribute pasta into dishes and garnish with additional parmesan cheese and the thyme sprigs. Before serving, I like to brighten up olive oil- or cream-based pasta dishes with a squeeze of fresh lemon, but this is completely optional.