Tomato mushroom pasta is a healthy yet delicious pasta that’s vegetarian and low in calories. This is ideal for weekdays when you are craving a plate of pasta but want to keep your meal nutritious and guilt free. Our version is a simpler and a vegetarian version of the popular Tuscan Boscaiola recipe.
What to expect: take a bite of penne aldente and be surprised by the creaminess of this pasta and the tasty earthy flavours. Your bite will probably include a chunky piece of mushroom and soft piece of cherry tomato. The combination is gorgeous, and will keep you wanting for more.
Mushroom Pasta Italian Name
As we are making mushroom pasta the Italian way, it’s only right we start with its Italian name.
Mushroom pasta is referred to as “pasta ai funghi” or “pasta con funghi”, one meaning mushrooms pasta and the other translating to pasta with mushrooms.
If you want to be specific as to the type of pasta you are using, you would call the one we are making today “penne con funghi e pomodorini”, which translates to penne with mushrooms and cherry tomatoes.
Yes, cherry tomatoes are called pomodorini because they are tiny tomatoes, and that’s exactly what pomodorini means. It’s a diminutive of the main noun tomatoes, which we call pomodori.
Do Italians eat pasta with mushrooms?
Of course, we do. Italians love cooking with mushrooms, and we like to put them in our pasta, in our main courses, in pizza and starters too.
We actually like them so much that we eat much more than we produce, even if Italy is the 7th largest mushrooms producer in Europe.
Here’s some interesting data I found on Plantgest (this data seems to have been collected in 2018).
- Italy produces 62 thousand tons of mushrooms, 54k to be sold fresh and the remaining 8 for further processing
- However, Italy consumed over 75k of mushrooms per year as at 2018, which means that it had to import some too.
- It probably imported them from the largest producers which are China and the US globally, and the Netherlands, France and Spain within the continent.
- Worldwide production of mushrooms is expected to grow from 12.7k in 2018 to 20 million tons till 2026.
- Actual global production grew 13.8 fold to 42.8 millions tons until the year 2020 (data from Frontiers)
- Production in Italy remained steady with around 62 k tons produced in 2022
It’s clear that both Italians and all other countries have been consuming more and more mushrooms. The reasons behind this are clear: first, more and more people have turned to a vegetarian and vegan diet which involves a higher consumption of all vegetables, including mushrooms; second, mushrooms have become known as a superfood over the last year, which makes more people want to consume them in larger quantities.
How do Italians eat mushrooms?
Below you’ll find the 10 most loved Italian recipes with mushrooms.
- A simple side dish with caramelized onions and mushrooms, sometimes with the addition of peas, bacon, and tomatoes;
- Pasta ai funghi e panna, which means pasta with mushrooms and cream (vegetarian & vegan);
- The Tuscan Pasta alla Boscaiola which is similar to pasta ai funghi e panna, with the addition of bacon, sausage meat, tomatoes and peas;
- Carne con funghi or beef and mushrooms is a dish loved by Italian for weekday dinners, simply made with mushrooms, onions and beef strips;
- Funghi trifolati is another simple side dish made with fresh mushrooms, sautéed in garlic and EVOO, with a handful of parsley;
- Risotto ai funghi is another Italian classic, mushrooms risotto;
- Scaloppine ai funghi is beef fillets cooked in a mushroom sauce;
- Funghi ripieni is baked stuffed mushrooms with a meat or vegetarian filling;
- Funghi e polenta, a quintessential north Italian dish;
- Grilled mushrooms with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, parsley, and lemon juice dressing.
Italian Mushrooms Types & Varieties
Now that we have confirmed that Italians love their mushrooms, and also know how they cook with them, let’s look into which types of mushrooms they use.
Many types of mushrooms grow in Italy, apparently as high as 400 species, between wild and cultivated.
Notwithstanding the above fact, below are the 8 types of mushrooms that Italians consume the most.
- Champignons or Prataioli, the most commonly available in the supermarkets; you can find them all year round as Italy cultivates a lot of this, about 75 % of its total production.
- Porcini, one of the finest type; especially appreciated for risotto, with beef and side dishes.
- Chiodini or Pioppini mushrooms are lovely simply pan fried, aka trifolati in Italian, as well as enjoyed with polenta. Italians love to preserve these and eat them with antipasti.
- Finferli, delicious as a simple side dish or added to a fresh pasta like tagliatelle or ravioli. These are available in Summer.
- Pleurotus Ostreatus, or oyster mushroom, is another common one that’s cultivated in Italy. These are delicious grilled and enjoyed with a simple dressing. They are also perfect to make a vegetarian or vegan cotoletta.
- Truffles of course, both white and black, as Italy is the largest producer of truffles. Truffle risotto, polenta cakes with truffle, truffle ravioli, and white truffle pizza are among the favourite Italian dishes featuring this precious food.
These are surely similar to what others around the world also consume. That’s because these types are commonly available in supermarkets, and are known to be safe for eating.
Best Mushrooms for Pasta
The two best mushroom varieties for cooking with pasta are the following ones:
- Porcini, a fine variety that are very meaty and flavourful.
- Champignons or Portobello, the most affordable and widely available.
These are also the two types most commonly used in Italian kitchens, so it’s likely that the recipes you find call for one of them. If it does, feel free to replace it with the other one.
If you want to elevate your dish further, consider the finferli kind, as well as adding a touch of truffle to finish your dish. You can also use our Truffle Infused EVOO.
Mushroom Pasta Ingredients
The ingredients you’ll need for your mushroom pasta depend on the recipe you are making. Today, I will give you the ingredients for the recipe we will be making, as well as the two common variations – pasta ai funghi e panna and boscaiola.
Mushrooms, champignon or porcini
Pasta, penne or tagliatelle are the most common
Extra virgin olive oil, a high quality one like Belmorso
Cooking cream or panna in Italian (I always use lactose free, but you can use regular)
salt, pepper, thyme and fresh parsley
For the classic Pasta ai funghi e panna, you’ll need these ingredients: penne, porcini mushrooms, cooking cream, bacon, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, extra virgin olive oil and parsley.
Whereas, for the Tuscan Boscaiola variation you’ll need these: tagliatelle dry or fresh, porcini mushrooms, onion, bacon, sausage, white wine, passata or chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper, fresh parsley, parmesan and the optional peas.
You can see how the difference in ingredients is minimal, with pasta ai funghi and the one we are making today being almost identical. The one key ingredient change is the use of cherry tomatoes for the vegetarian recipe and the use of bacon for the classic one.
Boscaiola is the perfect recipe for Sundays, especially if you serve it with fresh tagliatelle.
6 Tips to Elevate Your Mushroom Pasta
Mushroom pasta is a simple recipe that can be elevated not by adding extra ingredients but by using high quality ones. After all, that’s the underlying concept of Italian cuisine, so apologies if you find that I keep repeating it.
Here’s how to take yours to the next level:
- Use porcini instead of portobello
- Use an artisan penne pasta
- Use a high quality extra virgin olive oil that’s great for cooking like Belmorso EVOO
- Use cherry tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes
- Use parmesan instead of grana padano
- Use fresh parsley and thyme (although the latter is optional)
Mushrooms Pasta Recipe
Now that you know all of that, you are going to master this recipe. Let’s make it.
Use the recipe card below on screen, or print it out if you prefer.
Tomato Mushroom Pasta with Artisan Penne and EVOO
- 1 chopping board
- 1 chopping knife
- 1 medium pot
- 1 large pot
- 1 grater
- 5 large champignon mushrooms also known as portobello or button
- 320 gr Belmorso Artisan Penne
- 1 bowl cherry tomatoes about 350 gr
- 70 ml cooking cream
- salt and pepper
- thyme dry or fresh
- fresh parsley
- parmesan cheese
- Belmorso Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Peel and chop the onions.
- Clean, peel and slice your mushrooms; transfer them to a bowl.
- Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place them in a bowl.
- Start with sautéing your onions in your medium sized pot with a generous drizzle of Belmorso extra virgin olive oil.
- Boil the water for your pasta in your large pot with plenty of salt.
- Once your onions have started to caramelize, you can add the cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. Leave to cook until the mushrooms are as tender as you like them.
- Add the penne to boil.
- Season your mushrooms with salt, pepper and the thyme.
- Then add the cooking cream and the fresh parsley. Mix and take the sauce off the heat.
- Drain the pasta and add it to your sauce pot. Mix well and serve.
- Finish your tomato mushroom pasta with a generous grating of parmesan cheese.
What goes well with mushrooms? and other common questions
What goes well with mushrooms?
What enhances the flavour of mushrooms?
What herb or spice goes well with mushrooms?
How long should mushrooms be cooked for?
How long do mushrooms last in the fridge?
Can we eat mushroom and tomato together?
Which mushroom is good for pasta?
Should mushrooms be sautéed before adding to spaghetti sauce?
How long does it take to cook mushrooms?
What is the best way to cook mushrooms?
Can you cook raw mushrooms in sauce?
Do Italians eat mushrooms with pasta?
Which vegetables go well with mushrooms?
Is it better to overcook or undercook pasta?
Why do Italians like pasta al dente?
How do I know when penne is done?
Why is my penne pasta mushy?
What to do after straining pasta?
What is the opposite of al dente?
How do you know if pasta is overdone or underdone?