8 & $20 Recipe: Stuffed Mushroom–Inspired Pasta with Lambrusco

Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That’s all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you’ve got a feast for family or friends.

This easy dinner takes all the elements of stuffed mushrooms—sausage, breadcrumbs, herbs and the mushrooms themselves—and combines them into a pasta dish to make a hearty, full entrée instead of an appetizer. While I love a vegetarian meal, the sausage here provides a really delicious foundation of flavor (and fat) for a light sauce that coats the pasta.

As for the mushrooms, the point here is to get them tender and meaty, rather than crispy. The crispiness will come from the breadcrumbs, something I love adding on top of pastas. Not only do they provide a pleasing textural element and an extra salty-buttery note, but they also help significantly with the visual presentation.

Much like a showering of grated parmesan cheese or chopped herbs (both added here as well), breadcrumbs can make even a fairly monochromatic dish like a sausage pasta look beautiful. Here, arugula is added with the chopped parsley garnish for a complementary layer of flavor with a nice kick of bitterness. The greens also bring a freshness to this umami-rich dish and help balance out the spiciness from the red pepper flakes, if you decide to add those in.

You could purchase breadcrumbs, but they’re so much better when you take a few minutes to make them yourself. I like to make extra and sprinkle them on salads and sometimes cold soups like gazpacho, too. They’re a great way to use up stale bread, which is actually better in this case, since its lower moisture content means the slices will pulse into crumbs more easily in a food processor.

A Lambrusco red or dark rosé pairs well here, particularly with the use of sweet Italian sausage. (The optional pinch of crushed red pepper flakes shouldn’t be a problem, but be warned if you swap the sausage with its spicy counterpart: Bubbles amplify heat, which can mask other flavors). The notes of crushed berry and dried herb in this particular bottling, Cleto Chiarli e Figli Secco Lambrusco di Sorbara Vecchia Modena Premium NV, make it a strong match for this dish. With or without the pasta, I will definitely buy this wine again.

One-Pot, Stuffed Mushroom–Inspired Pasta

Pair with a Lambrusco such as Cleto Chiarli e Figli Secco Lambrusco di Sorbara Vecchia Modena Premium NV (89 points, $18)

Prep time:15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Approximate food costs: $40


  • 1 pound fusilli pasta
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/8 cup of red wine (you can also use the Lambrusco pairing here!)
  • 1 cup loosely packed arugula, finely chopped
  • 1 cup loosely packed parsley, finely chopped
  • About 1/4 loaf of crusty bread, such as a baguette, pulsed until fine in a food processor (should yield about 1 1/4 cups of breadcrumbs)
  • 1 pound mushrooms (such as shiitake, oyster or a mix), sliced
  • 1 cup grated parmesan, plus more for finishing


1. Fill a large Dutch oven with well-salted water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 2 to 3 minutes less than the package instructions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water in a cup, and transfer the pasta to a bowl.

2. While the pasta is cooking, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and toast, stirring frequently until golden brown, about five minutes. (Keep a close eye on it! They can burn quickly.) Transfer the toasted breadcrumbs to a plate and season with salt.

3. In the same Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high. Add the sausage, season with salt, plus a pinch of red pepper flakes if desired, then brown for 5 to 7 minutes, using a wooden spoon to stir so the sausage cooks evenly. Transfer the browned sausage to a plate and set aside, leaving behind any rendered fat and butter.

4. Add the mushrooms and garlic to the same Dutch oven and season with salt. Cook for about 2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Add the wine and 1/4 cup reserved pasta water and cook for 5 minutes so the ingredients can meld, stirring every once in a while. Reduce heat to low. Add back the sausage and the pasta, add in 1 cup of parmesan, and stir to combine and reheat, about 2 minutes.

5. Dress the chopped greens with olive oil and red wine vinegar and season to taste with salt. Transfer the pasta to bowls and top each one with the greens, breadcrumbs and more grated parmesan. Serves 4-6.

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