Creamy Mushroom Pasta With Vegetarian Sausage

October 20, 2021
4 Ratings
Photo by Pasta Social Club
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Just the thought of mushrooms, sausage, and a hint of fresh rosemary makes me want to put on a sweater, and this weeknight-friendly meal is precisely the warm fleece I crave this time of year. It’s inspired by an Umbrian dish called pasta alla Norcina (from the town of Norcia, famous for its cured meats), which combines pork sausages—seasoned simply with garlic, white wine, and sometimes nutmeg—with aromatics and fresh cream before finishing with shavings of black truffle (I know). But rest assured, no truffles are necessary for this more rustic, vegetarian-friendly version. Instead, cooking down whatever mushrooms catch your eye at the grocery store with dried-mushroom-infused wine adds a welcome layer of earthiness that warms up the dish and cuts through the cream. In terms of the pasta, I opted for rigatoni, which expertly captures the meat and mushroom pieces, but fresh tagliatelle or pappardelle would work wonderfully, too.

- As someone who abstains from eating pork, I’ve used Beyond Meat ‘Original Brat’ sausages instead. If you prefer to use meat, opt for mild-flavored sausages without fennel or other strong spices if you can.
- To keep things on the lighter side, swap in regular milk or an unsweetened and unflavored creamy dairy-free alternative like oat or cashew milk for half or more of the cream.
- If you’d prefer to avoid the alcohol, use water in place of wine to rehydrate the dried mushrooms.
Meryl Feinstein, Pasta Social Club

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 ounce dried mushrooms, such as porcini, oyster, wood ear, or a mix
  • 1 cup dry white wine (see Author Notes)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 12 ounces vegetarian or regular sweet Italian or bratwurst sausages, casings removed and broken into pieces (see Author Notes)
  • 1 pound mixed fresh mushrooms, like cremini, oyster, shiitake, maitake, and/or chanterelles, cleaned, ends trimmed, and thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream (see Author Notes)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, plus more for serving
  • 1 pound tubular pasta, such as rigatoni or penne
  • 1 1/2 ounces (⅓ cup) finely grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  1. Add the dried mushrooms and wine to a small saucepan and cook over low heat until it comes to a bare simmer. Set aside and allow to steep for 15 minutes, until the liquid has deepened in color and the mushrooms have softened. Remove the mushroom pieces, press firmly between paper towels to remove excess moisture, and coarsely chop. Pass the infused wine through a fine sieve into a small bowl or liquid measuring cup to remove any sediment.
  2. In a large saute pan or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and cook, breaking them up into bite-size pieces and stirring often, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes (if the meat starts to stick to the pan, add a little water to loosen and prevent burning). Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Wipe out the pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and return to medium-high heat. Add the sliced fresh and chopped rehydrated mushrooms, along with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Stir in the shallot, garlic, and another pinch of salt and pepper and cook until softened and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Return the sausage to the pan, then pour in the wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cream and rosemary and simmer until slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and plenty of black pepper. Set aside.
  6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and season it generously with kosher salt. Cook the pasta according to the package directions until it’s a couple minutes shy of al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
  7. Return the sauce to medium heat. Transfer the pasta directly to the sauce with a spider or slotted spoon and add three-quarters of the reserved pasta cooking water. Stir to coat and simmer until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce coats it nicely, about 3 minutes more (the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools). Loosen with more pasta water as needed.
  8. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted. Finish with a generous squeeze of lemon and adjust the seasoning to taste. Divide the pasta among bowls. Serve immediately topped with more chopped rosemary, black pepper, and Pecorino Romano.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • LyndsayW
  • Meryl Feinstein, Pasta Social Club
    Meryl Feinstein, Pasta Social Club
  • Michele308
  • aml833
Meryl Feinstein is a chef and pastaia who left the corporate world for the food industry in 2018. After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education, Meryl got her start at the renowned New York establishments Lilia and Misi, where she was part of the pasta production team. During that time, Meryl founded Pasta Social Club, a platform that brings people together over a shared love of food, learning, and making connections both on- and offline. She now lives in Austin, where she hosts virtual pasta-making workshops and develops recipes. Her dishes draw on her travels in Italy, ongoing research into the rich history of traditional pasta-making, and her Jewish heritage.

5 Reviews

Michele308 May 23, 2023
I love this recipe. Perfect for me as written.
LyndsayW January 18, 2022
LOVED this recipe. Used dry red wine instead of white (my mistake, thought I had white wine in the fridge!), used a cup of whole milk+ 2 tbls. of cornstarch, and then used chicken sausage instead of vegan (dairy and meat shortage has been hard!). Also our stores did not have anything but Bella mushrooms and no dried mushrooms but it still was INCREDIBLE. The cheese complimented this dish perfectly. This was a perfect winter meal.
Meryl F. January 25, 2022
I'm so happy you enjoyed it!! Can never go wrong with red wine!
aml833 October 27, 2021
Used oat creamer and Violife parmesan. My shallot had gone bad so I had to sub with some yellow onion. And the store didn't have dried mushrooms, but I don't think wine missed it. Amazing vegan dinner.
Meryl F. January 25, 2022
Yum!! Thanks for giving it a try!