This simple and delicious spaghetti recipe with garlic butter mushrooms and spinach takes minutes to make and is perfect for busy weekdays.
Yes, this pasta is really as good as it sounds. And let’s be honest, it’s pretty hard to mess up pasta but this is one of those fail-safe, idiot-proof recipes that I’m pretty sure even the most useless of useless cooks will be able to master. Having said that, I know there are some of you who are sighing and rolling your eyes at me because sometimes your pasta just doesn’t work out the way you want it to. You’re after al dente and all you get is al dreadful. But fear not, I am here to let you know how I do it and I have been known to cook a mean pasta so here goes.
1. You are over cooking your pasta. If your pasta is mushy and pasty, you’re doing it wrong. Your pasta should be pleasant to eat with a teensy-weensy little bit of bite. This does not mean there should be any crunchiness or that the pasta should be sticking to your teeth because that means it’s under-cooked. The key to not over-cooking pasta is to remove it from the water just before it’s al dente. The residual heat from the pasta and the sauce you coat it in will do the rest. And granted, this does take a little practice but that is where your mouth comes in. Throwing pasta against the ceiling is not the answer here. Taste it! Does it taste crunchy? Put it back in the pot. Does it taste sloppy? Then remove it immediately and try again next time. The only way you’ll ever get to cook pasta perfectly (and this rule applies to all cooking) is by tasting continuously.
2. So, you’ve cooked your pasta perfectly and it is not being swirled into the sauce. But all of a sudden all your lovely sauce is gone and the pasta seems stodgy. This is because pasta absorbs liquid as it sits. This is why you always scoop out a cup or so of the cooking water to add to the sauce when you’re stirring it through the cooked pasta. This water contains a lot of the starchy goodness released by the pasta and will create a luscious, creamy sauce. In fact, you can create a creamy sauce with just this water, a pat of butter and some grated Parmesan.
3. Your pasta tastes bland and that’s because you didn’t season the water. It is so, so, SO important to season the water generously when you cook pasta. A pinch won’t do. It has been said that the water used for cooking pasta needs to be as salty as the Mediterranean sea. I don’t think that’s quite necessary but it needs to be salty, you need to be able to taste it. This salt will infuse into the pasta and cooked, it will be good enough to eat on its own.
Now for me, that is all it takes to make good pasta. It might seem a little overwhelming if you’ve never done it but I promise it’s not hard and once you have it under your knee, you will be whipping up scrumptious pasta dishes left, right and center. The garlic butter sauce coating this pasta is simply delicious and can be whipped up while waiting for the pasta to cook. Leaving the mushrooms to brown well before adding the other ingredients creates that deep, rich, savoriness that can only be achieved if the mushrooms caramelise a little. I then add the garlic slices and allow them to almost confit in the butter before turning down the heat, seasoning and adding the spinach to wilt slightly. Mixed with the spaghetti and a splash of the cooking water this pasta becomes luscious and is the perfect easy comfort food. Top with a little sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese and you’re golden.
Garlic butter mushroom and spinach spaghetti
for the sauce
- splash of olive oil
- 250 g mushrooms sliced
- 4 garlic cloves peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 large handfuls baby spinach washed
- lemon juice to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- 500 g spaghetti cooked and 1 cup cooking water reserved
- feta cheese crumbled (optional)
- Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat then add the oil.
- Fry the mushrooms until deeply golden and cooked through.
- Add the garlic and butter and fry for another 30 seconds-1 minutes until the garlic is a light golden colour.
- Turn off the heat then add the spinach, lemon juice and season to taste.
- Add the cooked spaghetti and a splash of the cooking water. Stir the pasta into the sauce and add more water if necessary.
- Serve with feta cheese.
How much spinach is a handful, in grams or ounces? The shop doesn’t like me experimenting with the spinach, and I can’t work it out. Thanks.
What kind of shops won’t let you play with their spinach? So rude! 😉 It would be around a cup or two and I would guess around 100g or so. It doesn’t have to be a very specific amount, especially as it wilts so much once cooked.
Marisa Franca @ All Our Way
It is amazing how many people don’t know how to cook pasta properly. Plenty of salted water is the key plus NOT overcooking. I love the simplicity of your ingredients — I would give this recipe a 10 drool factor but I guess I’ll just have to settle for 5 stars. Can’t wait to make it.
Thanks for your lovely comment M! I appreciate those 5 stars! 😉
This sounds so good.
Alida, this is probably a stupid question, but what do you suggest if some spaghetti sticks together whilst cooking? I experienced it last week, and wondered why, could it have been the spaghetti, or did I have too much spaghetti in my big pot? Have a good week.
Not a stupid question at all! The key to not sticking together is to keep the pasta moving. I would suggest putting the spaghetti in the boiling water and allow it to soften slightly and then give it a good stir every minute or so. That way the water is continuously moving around it and the pasta won’t get a chance to stick together.
Thank you for that, really appreciate it.
Only a pleasure.
I love how simple this meal is! It looks lovely!
Thanks Katrina! Simple comfort food.
Oooh, mushrooms, garlic and butter, what is there not to like. It looks and sounds sooo good. Pasta for dinner is the best, it’s so easy to make, quick and always delicious.
I think that’s why it’s such a staple in so many homes. It’s often my go-to when I’m feeling lazy and uninspired.