Did I tell you that Ben and I snuck off to New York City for a few days this past December? I shared some photos on Instagram shortly after the trip, but don’t think I ever shared about it here on the mothership.
I get a flutter in my chest thinking about the experience – visiting NYC during the holidays has been on my bucket list for years so it’s not an exaggeration to say the trip was a dream come true. We were there for 2-1/2 days, walked between 11 and 14 miles per day (even on our half day!) and checked off everything on our must-see/do list — and then some!
We drank cocktails in historic bars, strolled Central Park and the High Line, saw Lin Manuel Miranda’s mind blowing off-broadway show Freestyle Love Supreme, enjoyed a $2.75 waterfront cruise of the city (ie took advantage of the New York Ferry – best kept secret in NYC!), visited with friends and family, and had one of the best meals of our lives at the completely gluten free restaurant, Senza Gluten.
If you have Celiac Disease or a food allergy/intolerance, you can probably understand the overwhelming feeling of opening a restaurant menu knowing you can order anything inside. Shifting your mindset to what you GET to order, vs what you HAVE to order at a restaurant is extremely bizarre, but once Ben and I got into it, there was no stopping us. ;) We ordered everything and then some. The calamari was the best we’ve ever had – GF or not – the cocktails were on point, the side dishes memorable, and the entrees incredible.
I ordered the Rigatoni Funghi e Speck: gluten free rigatoni in a decadent cream sauce with mixed mushrooms, smoked prosciutto, and truffle oil. I about asked Ben to pinch me to ensure that I was indeed still alive on planet earth. That is to say, it was one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had — especially since going gluten free — and our cozy, candle-lit trattoria surroundings was the cherry on top. It was magical, to say the least!
Back at home I immediately went about recreating the meal at I had Senza Gluten, and the result is a recipe that Ben has deemed my “best recipe yet” (woo!) Creamy Mushroom Parmesan Pasta is a restaurant quality recipe that’s easily made at home and so, so, SO delicious that you will lick your plate clean. It is such a treat!!
Creamy Parmesan Mushroom Pasta
Here’s the deal – I kept all the flavors of the pasta dish I had in NYC but made a few swaps to ensure the recipe is easy to make at home.
Cooked gluten free fettuccini is tossed in a homemade, lightened up parmesan cream sauce studded with sauteed mushrooms, sizzling bacon, lots of garlic, and tender baby spinach. A drizzle of fresh lemon juice brightens up the final dish before it’s topped with plenty of freshly cracked black pepper, twirled around your waiting fork, and devoured.
You will feel like a true chef after whipping up this impressive yet easy gluten free pasta dish!
Lightened Up Parmesan Cream Sauce
The secret to achieving a thick yet lighter (than a restaurant serves, anyway) cream sauce that clings to the the pasta, is harnessing the power of pasta cooking water. Adding some of the water that the pasta is cooked in while stirring the al dente pasta together with the creamy parmesan sauce allows the starch from the water to naturally thicken the sauce.
The sauce will go from thin and separated from the pasta, to thick and clinging to the pasta, right before your eyes. If you think it won’t happen, just keep stirring. I’ll show you below!
How to Make Creamy Mushroom Parmesan Pasta
Step 1: Crisp the Bacon
Start by browning chopped bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Scoop the crisped bacon onto a paper towel lined plate to drain then reserve some of the bacon fat in the skillet.
Step 2: Saute the Mushrooms
Next add sliced mushrooms and chopped shallots then saute until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the liquid has cooked off. Add minced garlic and a pinch of dried thyme then continue to saute until the mushrooms are golden brown and tender.
Step 3: Make the Parmesan Cream Sauce
To the skillet add heavy cream and chicken stock then bring to a simmer and stir in freshly shredded parmesan cheese until smooth and creamy. Add fresh baby spinach then simmer until its barely wilted, just a minute or two.
Step 4: Add Pasta then Thicken Sauce
Use tongs to transfer gluten free fettuccini that’s been cooked to al dente in a cooking pot next door (timing instructions are in the recipe card below) directly into the skillet then use the tongs to gently and continuously stir the pasta until it becomes tender, and the sauce thickened and creamy.
Keep adding ~1/4 cup pasta cooking water a time then stirring continuously until you achieve a thickened sauce that clings to the pasta. Like I said, the pasta will look separated from the sauce, and then at the last minute the starches will cause it to fully thicken and cling to the pasta. That’s when you know it’s done.
Turn off the heat then add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice — the dish shouldn’t taste lemony, just brightened — the bacon, plus plenty of freshly cracked pepper, and salt to taste. Scoop into bowls then top with more parmesan cheese, if you please, and serve. I hope you LOVE this taste of New York made right in your kitchen – enjoy!!
More Creamy Pasta Dishes
- Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic and Herbs
- Pink Sauce Pasta
- Creamy Sweet Corn Pasta with Basil
- Mushroom Broccoli Parmesan Noodles
- Gluten Free Baked Ziti
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Creamy Parmesan Mushroom Pasta
Creamy Mushroom Parmesan Pasta is a restaurant quality meal you can easily make at home. You will lick your plate clean of this decadent dish!
- 8oz gluten free fettuccine pasta
- 4 strips bacon, chopped
- 8oz button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- scant 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- 4 lightly packed cups baby spinach
- freshly cracked black pepper + salt
- 1/2 lemon
- For the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil then add 1 Tablespoon salt, turn heat down to low, and place a lid on top to keep hot.
- Add bacon to a large skillet then place over medium heat and let bacon slowly render its fat and brown. Once browned, scoop bacon onto a paper towel lined plate to drain. Remove all but 2 Tablespoons bacon grease from the skillet.
- For the pasta: Turn heat under water back up to high to bring to a boil then add fettuccini. Cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente - ie NOT totally tender as the pasta will finish cooking in the creamy parmesan sauce. Note: Pasta should be done at the same time as the cream sauce/skillet portion of the dish, but if it's done before, scoop out 1 cup pasta cooking water and reserve then drain pasta and set aside.
- Meanwhile, turn heat under skillet up to medium-high then add mushrooms and shallot and stir to coat in bacon grease. Let mushrooms sit and sear until they release their liquid, 2-3 minutes, then saute, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has cooked off. Add garlic and dried thyme then continue sauting until the mushrooms are golden brown and tender, 5 minutes, turning heat down slightly if needed to prevent garlic from burning.
- Add heavy whipping cream and chicken stock then turn heat up slightly to bring to a simmer. Add parmesan cheese then stir until smooth. Add baby spinach then stir and simmer until spinach is barely wilted, 1 minute.
- Use tongs to transfer pasta directly from the cooking pot to the skillet (or if you had to drain it, add pasta from colander). Stir gently and constantly with tongs, adding 1/4 cup pasta cooking water at a time to create a smooth and creamy sauce - just keep stirring! When the pasta is tender and the thickened sauce clings to the pasta, it's done.
- Turn off heat then add a drizzle of fresh lemon juice (dish shouldn’t taste lemony - just brightened) the cooked bacon, lots of freshly cracked black pepper, and salt to taste. Scoop into bowls then garnish with more parmesan cheese, if desired, and serve.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
Photos by Ashley McLaughlin