Creamy rigatoni florentine with sautéed mushrooms and toasted walnuts is a rich, savory vegetarian pasta dish that is healthy and satisfying. The earthy mushrooms have a firm, meaty bite which is beautifully complemented by the creamy spinach sauce and the sweetness of the walnuts. The mascarpone cheese adds a subtle richness for just the right finish. Served with a green salad and glass of red wine, this is a wonderful fall meal.
Pasta with mushrooms, and pasta with spinach, are two of my all-time favorite combinations. This dish combines both recipes into one in a luscious cream sauce for the perfect fall dinner. The recipe calls for mascarpone cheese which is essentially Italian cream cheese. Thicker than heavy cream and slightly sweeter than American cream cheese, mascarpone cheese adds a wonderful richness to this dish. The addition of the walnuts provides a bit of protein and a lovely, nutty crunch.
This pasta dish can be made with easily available button mushrooms or, for a slightly stronger mushroom flavor, try a combination of wild mushrooms. If you find the dish to be too rich for your taste, simply omit the mascarpone cheese. If you can't find mascarpone cheese, regular cream cheese will work fine.
The quantity of the ingredients may appear to be far too much for 4 people when you first start this dish. Keep in mind that the mushrooms shrink a bit as they cook and what appears to be a huge mountain of spinach will actually reduce down to a much smaller amount when cooked.
TIP: Add the cheese before the spinach is completely wilted. The spinach cooks very quickly and you want it slightly undercooked so that it can continue to cook as the cheese heats through.
Recipe: Rigatoni Florentine With Mushrooms and Walnuts
This is a rich, satisfying vegetarian pasta dish with hearty mushrooms and creamy spinach with the sweet, nutty crunch of toasted walnuts. Lovely on its own or serve as a side dish with beef for a decadently rich meal.
- 1 pound of rigatoni or similar pasta
- 1 large package (12 oz.) of fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 1 large bag (10-12 oz.) of fresh baby spinach, washed well and stems removed
- 1 cup walnut pieces
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 small container (8 oz.) mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg or 1/2 teaspoon dried nutmeg.
- Put a large pot of water on to boil. (4 quarts or liters for a pound of pasta)
- While the water is heating, carefully clean the mushrooms with a brush or damp towel, remove the tough end of the stems and slice them. Avoid running mushrooms under water as this makes them tough and chewy. Look for fresh, pre-sliced mushrooms to save time. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and sauté the mushrooms on medium low. Once they start to exude moisture, season lightly with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the mushrooms are a rich golden brown and some of the liquid has been cooked down.
- Add the spinach and stir together until the spinach is wilted.
- Add the mascarpone cheese and 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese and blend well. Heat through. The marscapone cheese will start to melt and thin out a bit as it warms up.
- Season with fresh nutmeg, salt and fresh-ground black pepper and turn the heat to low to keep warm.
- When the water is at a rolling boil, add 1 heaping tablespoon of salt and drop in the pasta. Stir gently to keep the pasta from sticking. Cook according to the package directions until al dente (firm to the bite).
- While the pasta is cooking, gently toast the walnuts in a small, dry saucepan on medium low heat. Set aside.
- When the pasta is done, carefully reserve a 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta and add it back into the hot pot, off the heat. Add the mushroom and spinach sauce and toss everything together to combine. Add a splash of the reserved pasta water to smooth out the sauce to a silky consistency.
- Plate the pasta and garnish with the toasted walnuts and the remainder of the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Try this recipe with shiitake mushrooms or a blend of wild mushrooms for a change of pace. You can substitute regular cream cheese for the mascarpone or skip it all together for a lighter dish.
There was an issue loading your timed LeadBox™. Please check plugin settings.