I started to embrace what I call the Cross-Your-Fingers step in recipes. It’s that one step where even if you made the recipe a bunch of times, you are never 100% sure if it’s going to work out. This Mushroom Carbonara has a big Cross-Your-Fingers step, but it’s totally worth it.
And it turns out even if the Cross-Your-Fingers step goes South, it’s still a darn good meal!
But, if it goes right, you’ll end up with a silky smooth, savory, mushroom-packed carbonara that is a perfect vegetarian version of the classic Italian dish.
Of course, the Cross-Your-Fingers step in this homemade Mushroom Carbonara is the part where you add uncooked eggs to piping hot spaghetti and mushrooms and hope (HOPE!) that the eggs don’t curdle. Of course, there are tricks to make sure this works, but you might still get the occasional small bit of curdled egg in the finished product.
Have no fear though. It’s a delicious meal no matter what and one that I happily embrace. Don’t be afraid of the carbonara. It’s worth the leap of faith!
Mushroom Carbonara Walkthrough Video
Cooking the Mushrooms
It should be no surprise that this carbonara starts with mushrooms… lots of them! You could use a variety of mushrooms if you like, but cremini mushrooms are readily available and always delicious when you saute them and cook them with butter and sage!
Slice the mushrooms and add them to a skillet with butter of your choice. Cook the mushrooms until they wilt down completely and start to get browned. This will take probably 6-8 minutes over medium heat. Mushrooms can take a lot of heat and you really want to cook out a lot of the moisture in the mushrooms.
Then you can add in the slivered garlic and fresh sage. You don’t want to cook it too long once the garlic and sage are in or they will just burn. Add them in the last 30 seconds or so of cooking and the skillet will immediately become very fragrant and your neighbors will be wondering what’s up.
Making Carbonara Sauce
Here’s the key to carbonara: Eggs, egg yolks, and parmesan cheese. That’s all you need! It can go wrong, but it can also go soooo right.
Should you add cream to carbonara?
Sometimes you will see online recipes that add cream to their carbonara sauce. I’ve tried this a few times over the years and while it does make a sauce, it isn’t exactly the same as a classic carbonara sauce. When you add cream to it, it becomes more of an alfredo sauce in my opinion.
So personally, I recommend sticking to the basics: eggs, parmesan, egg yolks.
Once your mushrooms are cooked, add your cooked spaghetti straight from the water to the skillet along with about 1/2 cup of pasta water. Then, most importantly, take the skillet off the heat. Any direct heat on the pasta will almost certainly scramble your eggs!
Finishing the Mushroom Carbonara
Here’s the part in the recipe where you take a deep breath, say a little prayer, and stir in your whisked egg mixture. Immediately use tongs to start tossing the spaghetti with the egg mixture. If you do it right the sauce will start to thicken but stay silky smooth.
I nailed this version!
I’ll be honest. I made this dish a few times and I did slightly scramble my eggs in one version of them. It happens. If you were serving this dish in a restaurant it would be a redo, but if you’re just eating it at home it’s most likely still very delicious!
Conquer your carbonara fears and try this mushroom version. It’s a keeper!
Storing and Reheating Carbonara
Carbonara is at its best within minutes of being cooking. It’s just the nature of the sauce that it’s wonderful while hot and silky smooth but once it starts to cool down, it gets congealed and kind of sad.
That said, if you have leftovers don’t toss them! It can be saved and reheated fine. Whatever you do when reheating, avoid the microwave. Add the leftover carbonara to a skillet that has a thin layer of simmering water in it. Once the pasta is in the skillet, turn the heat down as low as possible and stir like crazy to bring the sauce back to life without curdling the eggs.
Mushroom Carbonara with Fresh Sage
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, sliced thinly
- 8 ounces spaghetti
- 1 cup pasta water
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 whole eggs
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- Fresh sage leaves, garnish
- In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, whole eggs, and parmesan cheese. Set aside for later. Slice mushrooms.
- Melt Butter with Canola Oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms wilt down and caramelize well. This should take at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the mushrooms are cooking, cook spaghetti in salted water until al dente. Reserve pasta water.
- Add sliced garlic and fresh sage to mushrooms and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add cooked spaghetti to the mushrooms in the skillet. Add ½ cup pasta water to the skillet and save the rest as you might need more if the sauce gets too thick.
- Remove skillet from heat entirely and quickly stir in the egg and parmesan mixture. The residual heat from the spaghetti will cook the eggs and they shouldn’t curdle. If they do curdle slightly, it’s okay. It’s still delicious!
- Serve mushroom carbonara immediately garnished with fresh sage leaves.