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Pasta with Tomato-Mushroom Sauce Recipe

My newest cooking revelation is to not drain my pasta, but to scoop it out of the boiling water with tongs or a bamboo skimmer and plop it into the sauce pan.

It seems quite silly that I would start doing this now seeing as I have been watching Lidia Bastianich do this for years. I guess I hadn’t been paying close enough attention, because I was watching Mario Batali last week on the Martha Stewart Show and he was doing the same thing and I thought, “now why have I not been doing that with my pasta?”

For this to be as earth shattering as I hope you think it is, there has to be some clarification on how a proper pasta is made, or should I say not made. A proper pasta is not boiled pasta laying naked on a plate  loosely draped with bottled sauce.

Nope, as a matter of fact, pasta is intended to be tossed with the sauce, which sometimes turns out to be thicker than one would assume when it was happily simmering away on its own. Once the pasta gets added it may need a little extra liquid to coat the noodles evenly, and the perfect liquid for that job is the starchy, salty water you just cooked the pasta in. Therefore, you always want to save that liquid in case you need it and if you have just dumped it all down the drain, well, your screwed.

So that was a completely roundabout way of explaining why it is such a fantastic idea to retrieve your pasta from the water and not the other way around.


Penne pasta tossed with a rich, slow-cooked tomato and mushroom sauce. Dairy Free!
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion small dice
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 8 ounces crimini or white mushrooms sliced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1 pound dry pasta
  • Grated Parmesan for serving


  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once shimmering, add onion, garlic and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook stirring occasionally until onions are just starting to brown.
  • Add tomatoes, thyme, anchovy paste, and 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.
  • While sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook according to package instructions. Remove pasta from cooking water into sauce and toss to combine, if sauce seems too thick add a ladle or two of pasta water. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve with grated parmesan cheese over the top.

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