I love a good cream sauce pasta. It’s comfort food at its finest. Warm, filling, and hearty, a cream sauce sets the stage of a robust pasta dinner. If you’re like me, you’re going to love this Marsala cream sauce.
If you’ve ever had chicken Marsala you know that rich taste in the sauce. It’s truly unlike anything else, and typically is combine with mushrooms and pasta. I’ve always been a fan of the Marsala flavor, but I’m not always wanting to cook a heavy chicken dinner. You see, most times I’m completely fine with meatless dinners. So, I wanted to take all of those rich flavors and create a meatless Marsala cream sauce pasta.
Now, a very special thing about this Marsala cream sauce is that it’s tossed with peas and crispy fried mushrooms. That’s right, crispy fried mushrooms. I’ve talk about this before, but it’s so important to pay attention to textures in your dish. When I was creating this Marsala cream sauce I wanted a little bit of crunch, something that added texture and depth to an otherwise noodle-filled dish. These crispy fried mushrooms, of boy do they do the trick. Also, every time I go to type crispy fried mushrooms I nearly type crispy fried onions. Maybe I need to make crispy fried onions next.
Is there a substitute for Marsala wine?
So I guess before we embark on a Marsala cream sauce we should probably talk about what Marsala wine is. So let’s get this out of the way in case you’re wondering: there is no substitute for Marsala wine. Most ingredients to some degree have a substitute. But when it comes to Marsala, the flavor is so unique and specific it just can’t be substituted with anything else. If you’re reading this and hope to make this tonight but you don’t have the Marsala wine, save this page, go to the store and buy the wine, then make this.
Now that we’ve got that part out of the way, Marsala wine is different than your typical wine and not something you want to pour a big ole glass of and sip it. But, it does taste incredible in cooking. The flavors are robust, rich, and slightly Earthy. It’s a dark brown and adds a depth of color to your dishes.
Where to buy the wine
There are two places you can buy Marsala, well technically there’s only one place you should buy it. So, in the grocery store usually down the aisle with the oils and vinegars there will be an area for cooking wines, one of the being Marsala. Or, you can go to the liquor store where you buy wine and you’ll find it there too. The grocery store version and the liquor store version are very different. They are not the same thing at all. My opinion, you need to buy the real stuff from a liquor store. This is the real Marsala wine and the one you should be using for cooking. There is dry Marsala and sweet Marsala, for cooking look for the dry version and get ready to make this Marsala cream sauce!
The best bite here is swirling your fork with noodles, scooping up peas along the way, then the finishing touch of some crispy fried mushrooms. SO much depth of flavor: warm, rich, robust. The peas add a vibrant burst of color in an otherwise beige dish. I didn’t mention this yet but probably should have, this is also very easy to make! Fried up the mushrooms, cook the pasta, and the Marsala cream sauce comes together in no time. Toss with cooked peas and…dinner!Print
Marsala Cream Sauce Pasta
Marsala cream sauce pasta is comfort food blend of a creamy marsala sauce with crispy fried mushrooms and peas. Enjoy the rich warm flavors of marsala wine!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
3/4 box of thin spaghetti
8oz package of cremini mushrooms
1 10oz package of frozen peas, cooked
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons flour
1 and 1/2 cups half & half
1/4 cup dry Marsala wine, this measurement is if you are using dry wine from a liquor store. If you buy the Marsala cooking wine from the grocery store you’ll need to increase this to be able to taste the Marsala flavor. If using the grocery store version, start with 1/2 cup and taste the sauce, increase to as much as 1 cup as desired for the Marsala flavor.
1/2 cup of the boiling pasta water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1. Cook the peas.
2. In a small pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Slice the cremini mushrooms thin. Saute them for 9-10 minutes until crispy. The mushrooms will shrink up as they cook. I alternated between medium and medium high heat to get the level of crispiness I wanted. Spoon onto a paper towel on a plate, sprinkle with salt, then set aside until the rest of the dish is cooked.
3. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Toss in your pasta and cook until desired texture. (I do 12 minutes.) Also, I fully admit I am terrible at measuring the right amount of pasta. I do 3/4 of a box and find this amount to be just right. Too much pasta and you won’t have enough sauce to coat it entirely. 4. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter. Using a zester, grate the garlic clove into the butter. Cook until the garlic gets lightly browned. Once the garlic has browned, add the flour and whisk to make a paste. Pour in the half & half, the 1/2 cup of boiling pasta water, and the Marsala wine and simmer until thickened. Add the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. I like my cream sauces peppery. Give the sauce a taste and adjust as needed.
4. Let the sauce simmer as the pasta finishes cooking. Occasionally as the sauce thickens, add some additional boiling pasta water if needed. Do not add more cream to thin out a sauce, use the pasta water.
5. When the pasta and sauce have finished, add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir to coat. Add in the peas and stir to combine. Top with the crispy fried mushrooms.
If you choose to buy the Marsala wine in the grocery store, you’ll need to use more to get the same flavor. The Marsala wine from the liquor store is much stronger so this recipe only needs to use 1/4 cup.