Mushroom aglio e olio is a simple yet flavorful Italian pasta dish made with sauteed mushrooms, bold flavors from garlic, and mild heat from the chili flakes.Jump to Recipe
We've been loving pasta dishes lately and they've been our go to for busy weeknights. Especially vegetarian, Italian inspired pasta dishes like this pasta e piselli. Aglio e olio has always been something that I've ordered when I go to Italian restaurants. The combination of garlic and noodles is like a match made in heaven.
When I found out how simple this recipe was, I immediately wanted to make it. However, I didn't just want to make pasta aglio e olio. Instead, I wanted to take it to the next level by using sauteed mushrooms. There's something about the rich umami flavor of mushrooms that creates a bold flavor profile with the pasta.
This recipe is simple and easy to make yet the flavors are rich and complex. Whether you make this on a busy weeknight or on a special occasion, everyone will enjoy this vegetarian pasta dish.
What Is Mushroom Aglio Olio?
Mushroom aglio e olio is a variation of the classic Italian pasta dish "spaghetti aglio e olio." In Italian, "aglio e olio" translates to "garlic and oil". The pasta is made up of primarily these two ingredients. Classic aglio olio pasta has its roots in Southern Italy, particularly in the regions of Campania and Abruzzo. It is a beloved staple of Italian cuisine known for its simplicity and bold flavors.
In the mushroom version, sautéed mushrooms are added to enhance the flavor and texture of the dish. This adds a savory umami, nutty element to the pasta. The simplicity of this recipe is what makes it so good.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Flavorful Simplicity: This mushroom spaghetti aglio e olio recipe is a minimalistic pasta allowing the natural flavors of garlic, mushrooms, and olive oil to shine. Pasta recipes can get overly complicated with so many ingredients. However, this is perfect for when you don't have much on hand. Don't take away from the flavors of the two main ingredients, mushrooms and garlic.
Quick and Easy: It's a quick and easy dish to prepare, making it perfect for busy weeknights. Prep time, cook time, and clean up are very minimal.
Customizable: You can personalize mushroom aglio olio by choosing your favorite pasta, or add a variety of mushrooms. Feel free to customize this with other vegetables you may have on hand. We will have more suggestions on this later.
Vegetarian Delight: Trying to eat less meat lately? Consider choosing one night a week to make a vegetarian dinner. While this pasta doesn't include a meat, it's certainly not lacking on flavor.
Spaghetti - This is the traditional pasta used in mushroom aglio olio. You can use other types of pasta you have on hand. For similar substitutes, think linguine, bucatini, or angel hair. You can also use a gluten free pasta if you have dietary restrictions.
Olive oil - Use a high quality olive oil for this recipe. This is one of the main ingredients in this recipe and quite a bit is used to create a garlic mushroom sauce for the noodles. The high quality olive oil is going to have a much better flavor than a mild variety. I recommend using extra virgin olive oil since it's the least processed form.
Garlic - Fresh garlic is a must for this recipe. Using pre-minced could result in an after taste. Choose regular garlic over elephant garlic for a more potent flavor in the mushroom sauce.
Mushrooms - Feel free to get creative with the mushroom variety you use. Stick to one type or explore more than one. I used a blend that contained baby bella, shiitake, and oyster. The contrasting flavors and textures helped the pasta sauce develop nicely.
Salt - To enhance the flavors of the other ingredients. Feel free to use a seasoned salt. You can also add ground black pepper to add spice and aromatics.
Red pepper flakes - For added heat and to garnish the creamy mushroom aglio olio. If you're sensitive to the heat you can leave it off.
Parmesan cheese - A high quality, freshly grated parmesan is going to give the best flavor. Going the cheap route will not give you the flavor that you get from the traditional recipe.
Fresh Thyme or Parsley - Fresh herbs to top the pasta as a garnish is a must. They bring so much brightness, color, and freshness to the pasta. My go to's are thyme and parsley, feel free to go with something else like fresh basil instead. Make sure you're using fresh herbs to garnish, not dried.
How It's Made
Step 1. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions in a large pot and reserve 1 cup of salted pasta water before the pasta is drained. Be sure to add salt to the pasta water to give added flavor.
Step 2. In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. It's important to heat the oil before sauteeing to bring out maximum flavor.
Step 3. Once heated, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. About 1-2 minutes. Make sure the garlic is cooked but not starting to brown and crisp up. To avoid this, reduce heat. If you end up burning the garlic, I suggest starting over with new garlic.
Step 4. Add the mushrooms and sauté stirring frequently until browned and softened. About 3-4 minutes. Season generously with salt to taste. The time you let cook will depend on how you like your mushrooms. If you like them softened, spend more time in this process. If you prefer a bite in your mushrooms cook for 2-3 minutes.
Step 4. Add 1 cup of reserved pasta water to the skillet and simmer for about 5-6 minutes over medium to medium high heat until the sauce has reduced by half and has started to thicken.
Step 5. Remove skillet from heat and add cooked pasta. Stir into the sauce until all the noodles are completely coated.
Step 6. Stir in chili flakes, salt to taste, and parmesan cheese.
Step 7. Garnish with fresh thyme or fresh parsley. Serve immediately.
Use High Quality Ingredients: The quality of ingredients you use will directly affect the flavor of this pasta dish. Use freshly sliced mushrooms and extra virgin olive oil.
Control Heat: If the heat is too high you risk burning your garlic which will ruin the flavor of the sauce. Keep over medium while cooking the garlic and mushrooms and keep an eye on them while they cook.
Salt Pasta Water: This simple step can make a huge difference in the flavor of the overall dish. It also helps the water boil quicker.
Add More Garlic: If you're a garlic lover like we are, feel free to add more. Feel free to slice the garlic instead of mincing. You can even reserve some of the cooked garlic and serve as a garnish over the pasta.
Add Greens: Toss in some baby spinach or arugula leaves at the end and let it wilt down before serving. This spinach mushroom aglio olio recipe is a great way to add color, flavor, and nutrition to your weekly dinner.
Protein Boost: Turn the vegetarian pasta into a full meal by adding the protein of your choice. Think salmon, shrimp, prawns, or chicken. Adding the meat of your choice is an easy, healthy way to make dinner feel more complete.
Veggie Medley: Incorporate a mix of sautéed or roasted vegetables. Bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, or asparagus are excellent choices. Try to use up what you have on hand already.
Creamy Mushroom Aglio Olio Sauce: If you enjoy creamy pasta, try adding a touch of heavy cream with the olive oil and garlic to create a creamy garlic sauce similar to alfredo but not quite as heavy. This creamy aglio olio recipe variation is hearty and so good.
Crispy Bacon: What is better than bacon on pasta? This one ingredient takes any pasta dish to the next level. Cook it up until nice and crispy. Use leftover bacon grease to cook the garlic and make the sauce. Then, crumble bacon bits over the top while you serve. The bacon adds a smoky, savory dimension to the pasta.
White Wine: Deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine before adding the cooked pasta for a subtle wine-infused taste. Give it a minute or two to simmer down and become reduced.
Roasted Garlic: Instead of minced garlic, use roasted garlic cloves for a milder, sweet garlic flavor.
To store the mushroom aglio olio, allow to cool to avoid excess condensation. Transfer the pasta to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. I don't recommend freezing the pasta because you'll end up with an undesirable texture and quality once thawed.
Reheating is easy. Simply place the mushroom algio olio in a microwave safe container and add a splash of olive oil or water to keep the sauce from drying out. You can also top the dish with a damp paper towel to retain moisture. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir, then repeat until fully heated through.
Note: If the pasta is dry, feel free to stir in a little more olive oil then garnish with fresh herbs, cheese, and red pepper flake before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to use spaghetti?
No, you don't have to use spaghetti in algio olio. While this is the authentic way to prepare the dish you can substitute for any pasta you have on hand. I recommend using angel hair, linguine, or fettuccine but you can penne as well.
What goes well with mushroom aglio olio?
If you're serving this pasta as a vegetarian main course, I recommend the following sides:
Maple Balsamic Brussel Sprouts - They're sweet, tangy, and topped with a delicious glaze. These bake up in no time while the pasta is cooking.
Hot Honey Carrots - Perfect if you're looking for a spicy but sweet pairing. The sriracha honey glaze will blow you away.
Beet Cucumber Salad - If you're looking for an earthy but light pairing for the pasta you'll love this salad. The veggies are topped with a refreshing lemon, dijon, and honey dressing.
Crack Green Beans - These green beans are so addicting. They're made with canned green beans, brown sugar, and bacon. Don't knock it until you've tried it.
Why is my mushroom aglio olio dry?
There are a few reasons why your pasta might be dry.
- Not Enough Sauce: You may not be using enough olive oil and pasta water. If your pasta is dry, toss in more oil to coat the noodles. To prevent this, keep from simmering the olive oil and pasta water for too long so you have enough sauce to coat the noodles.
- Noodles Aren't Mixed Well: You may not have tossed the noodles well enough in the sauce. Many times the sauce is sitting at the bottom of the skillet. Using tongs, toss the pasta from the bottom up to redistribute the sauce.
- Pasta Sat for Too Long: Even after the pasta is done cooking, it will still continue to absorb the garlic mushroom sauce. If it sits for too long, don't be surprised if it dries out. That's why it's important to add a little oil before reheating.
What are the best mushrooms to use in this recipe?
The best mushrooms for this recipe are your favorite mushrooms. That's right, I suggest going with what you love. If you need some suggestions, below is a list of mushrooms commonly used in this recipe.
- White Button
- Baby Bella
If you're using different types of mushrooms, be sure to cut into uniform sizes so they cook up evenly.
Do I have to use olive oil?
Yes, the traditional Italian recipe uses olive oil. I don't recommend making this with canola oil or vegetable oil because the flavor and quality won't be there. I suggest an extra virgin olive oil. You can even try mixing in an infused olive oil with hot pepper flake or fresh herbs for depth in flavor.
Is aglio olio vegetarian?
Yes, this recipe contains no meat or meat products making it not only vegetarian but also vegan.
Try These Mushroom Recipes
Easy Mushroom Aglio Olio
- 1/2 lb spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon + 1/3 cup olive oil
- 5-6 cloves garlic minced
- 9-10 oz sliced mushrooms baby bella, shiitake, oyster
- salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- fresh thyme or parsley
- Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions and reserve 1 cup of salted pasta water before the pasta is drained.
- In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Once heated, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. About 1-2 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and sauté stirring frequently until they are browned and softened. About 3-4 minutes. Season generously with salt to taste.
- Add 1 cup of hot pasta water to the skillet and simmer for about 5-6 minutes over medium to medium high heat until the sauce has reduced by half and has started to thicken.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and add cooked pasta. Stir into the sauce until all the noodles are completely coated.
- Stir in chili flakes, salt to taste, and parmesan cheese.
- Garnish with fresh thyme and serve immediately