Mushroom

Buttery Mushroom Pasta Is Exactly What You Need This Fall

Born out of a love for the classic cacio e pepe.

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October 15, 2021

We've teamed up with Vermont Creamery to share the cozy new pasta we're keeping on repeat all fall long: a mushroom-packed cacio e pepe riff, with an extra kick of flavor and creaminess from their Cultured Butter With Sea Salt.


For some people, it's pumpkin-spiced products that signal fall’s arrival—but for me, it’s mushrooms. Of course you can get great mushrooms at the supermarket nearly year-round these days, but you won't see me reaching for earthy varieties (like chanterelles and creminis) to cook with until it's cool enough for a light jacket. Sautéed, roasted, fried—you'd be hard-pressed to find a substitute for umami-packed mushrooms that always lend depth to a dish.

In this riff on the classic Roman dish, cacio e pepe, standard cremini mushrooms are the star, cooked in both butter and olive oil before meeting beautiful campanelle pasta. "Cacio e pepe" literally translates to cheese (specifically, the Roman dialect for Pecorino Romano) and black pepper. For a dish this seemingly simple, the details really matter. In traditional cacio e pepe, neither cream nor butter are on the ingredients list. Instead, the Pecorino cheese is emulsified with the hot starchy pasta water to create the signature luscious sauce. Coarsely crushed black peppercorns are also often toasted in a dry pan to release more of their aroma.

Here, we borrow the technique for creating classic cacio e pepe's velvety sauce, while also leaning on butter for added flavor in the mushrooms. Let's take a closer look at the individual components that come together to create a successful (not to mention delicious) mushroom pasta dish.

Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Sophia Pappas. Food Stylist: Ericka Martins.

Black Pepper

As often seen in cacio e pepe, we're also toasting freshly cracked black pepper. You can hand crank at your pepper mill's largest setting or coarsely crush the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle. We then toast the cracked pepper in a dry pan to release its fragrance before adding the butter and extra-virgin olive oil. The warmed-up pepper gets infused into the butter and oil mixture.

Buttered Mushrooms

As anyone who's ever cooked mushrooms well knows, those little guys are chock full of water, so be patient with them! Cooking with a salted butter helps to draw out their inherent moisture while also seasoning them. The Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter With Sea Salt I used in developing this recipe is nicely (and not overly) salted. And since it’s cultured, it's simultaneously creamier and nuttier than your average salted butter. This quality pairs especially well with the assertive tang of sheep's milk Pecorino. We cook the mushrooms down until most of their moisture has evaporated and the edges start to brown.

Pasta

Once the mushrooms have caramelized a bit, they're ready to meet their pasta partner. Make sure you follow your package directions to cook the pasta just shy of al dente. I like dried pasta like campanelle, not only because short-cut shapes are more fun and plentiful, but they're also good vehicles for the sauce, which loves to get in every nook and cranny. Campanelle's ruffled edges are especially beautiful, though you must take care in the tossing stage to be gentle as they like to unfurl when handled too aggressively. Choose your favorite pasta shape—rigatoni or bucatini would be great here—if campanelle, also known as gigli, is hard to find.

Pasta Water & Cheese "Paste"

I cannot overstate the importance of the starchy pasta water in this recipe. Reserving some of this cooking water is a critical technique in dishes like cacio e pepe and carbonara for good reason: Not only does it help to thicken the sauce and give it a "creaminess" sans actual cream, but it also helps to temper the cheese and make it more homogenized so that it won't split or become clumpy or stringy when it hits the hot pasta.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Looks delish, I will try it when I find that butter. Where oh where did you get that glass measuring cup? Oh my, I have to have it. ”
— Beth B.
Comment

In this recipe, make sure you reserve an ample amount of pasta cooking water (at least 1 1/2 cups). You will use some of it to make the cheese paste mixture, and more to create the sauce while finishing the pasta-cooking in the pan, along with the last tablespoon of reserved butter. Another important step to remember is to cut the heat before adding the cheese paste mixture into the pan, in order to prevent clumping. These are all steps that act as added insurance for a smooth and saucy end result.

As with all recipes, feel free to use this as a jumping-off point to create a mushroom pasta that suits your tastes. I held back on garlic and herbs to keep it more in line with the simplicity of a cacio e pepe-style dish, but added aromatics, heat from chili flakes, or even a touch of cream would only contribute to the comforting coziness of this dish.


What’s your go-to fall pasta? Tell us in the comments below!

Our friends at Vermont Creamery know a thing or two about producing the very best Cultured Butter—it's crafted by their expert butter-makers, who carefully add live bacterial cultures to fresh Vermont cream and let it ferment overnight, till its thickened and aromatic. Try their Cultured Butter With Sea Salt with pasta (like, ahem, the one featured here), slathered on bread, melted and drizzled over roast vegetables, in baked treats, and the list goes on. Ready to stock up? Find your nearest retailer, right this way.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • arielcooks
    arielcooks
  • Beth Bilous
    Beth Bilous
  • Hana Asbrink
    Hana Asbrink
Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.

5 Comments

arielcooks October 24, 2021
Thank heavens you've given us a delicious new fall flavor -- mushrooms beat "pumpkin spice" all the way to the moon!
 
Beth B. October 17, 2021
Looks delish, I will try it when I find that butter. Where oh where did you get that glass measuring cup? Oh my, I have to have it.
 
Author Comment
Hana A. October 18, 2021
Thank you, Beth! In my area, you can find the butter at Whole Foods or nice cheese shops. I'm going to ask our prop stylist where the neat measuring cup is from, hopefully more from me soon...
 
Beth B. October 18, 2021
Thank you. Found the butter only unsalted version of the Vermont Creamery cultured butter, so I will need to add a small bit of salt. I am making this tonight. Please do let me know when your prop stylist gets back to you. Keep the great recipes coming.
 
Author Comment
Hana A. October 19, 2021
Hi Beth - Here you go! Our amazing team managed to track it down. Enjoy the pasta and new measuring cup. :) https://www.bostongeneralstore.com/products/citrus-juicer-1