Mushroom Marsala with Penne

Mushroom Marsala with Penne Pasta

One of the things we love about Mushroom Marsala with Penne is its versatility. It easily doubles as a satisfying main or as a sumptuous side. It can even serve as a sauce if omitting the pasta.

Sometimes I add chives for fresh hit of flavor and a boost of color. A little green makes for an extra special presentation.

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 0hr 25mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • 1 ½ quarts tap water
  • 4 ounces dry penne
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
In a 3-quart tri-ply saucepan set over high heat, bring pasta water to a rolling boil (6-8 minutes). Add pasta/salt; briefly stir to separate the pieces. When boiling resumes, reduce heat to hold at a low rolling boil until pasta is al dente (as per package), strain thoroughly in a mesh strainer with vigorous shakes. Return to the pan and cover with a lint-free dishcloth. Turbulent water helps prevent gummy pasta. Adding salt after water is hot reduces pitting in metal pans. A cloth keeps pasta warm and moist without holding in excess steam.
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced shallot (if a substitution is required, use 4 teaspoons minced green onion, white part only, plus 2 teaspoons minced garlic)
Meanwhile, prepare and set aside.

Tip: With shallot on its side, cut off and discard stem and root. Cut in half from pole to pole; discard dry or tough layers. Place cut sides down and slice parallel to the equator to ⅛ inch, holding the pieces together as you work. Cut across slices to finely dice.

A shallot resembles a tiny red onion. Its flavor is a cross between onion and garlic, and its texture is so fine that it disappears into the sauce during cooking.
  • 8 ounces (4 cups) sliced crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
Set aside.

Tip: Select mushrooms whose caps have not separated from the stems; brush off any soil with a pastry brush. Cut in half from top to bottom; place cut sides down and slice to ¼ inch.

Rinsing mushrooms makes them slimy.
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon thyme or marjoram
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon tarragon
  • ¼ teaspoon roughly ground black pepper
  • 1/32 teaspoon cayenne
Circulate butter in a 12-inch tri-ply everyday pan set over medium heat until it begins to foam (2-3 minutes). Add mushrooms and seasonings in an even layer. Cook, undisturbed, until browned and liquid is released (6-8 minutes). Scatter shallots on top and cook just until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Tri-ply is nonreactive and will not release undesirable flavors during deglazing. Mushrooms cooked undisturbed brown nicely, giving up enough moisture to prevent burning.
  • ½ cup sweet Marsala
Pour half over mushrooms to deglaze the pan (release the tasty browned bits); allow half to evaporate (30-40 seconds). Add remaining half; allow half to evaporate again (60-90 seconds). Unnecessary stirring hurts mushroom texture.
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
With a bamboo spatula, gently stir in butter and cream just until fully incorporated (20-30 seconds). Add pasta to the pan and gently toss with two forks until evenly coated. Serve in shallow serving bowls. Bamboo is gentle on cookware. The final hit of butter and cream add body to the sauce.



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