This garlicky mushroom cream pasta sauce is made with a roux, milk, and parmesan cheese instead of cream. The secret ingredient in this sauce is the garlic sauteed mushrooms in butter.
This mushroom cream pasta sauce goes really well with sweet potato gnocchi or white potato gnocchi. In fact, if you make all three recipes, it will take you about 1 hour from start to finish. This trio is an excellent meal prep recipe that can be eaten throughout the week for lunch or dinner.
A Side Note Garlic Hack
If you've tried a few of my other recipes on the blog (like mulukhiyah with roz from scratch or ful medames in a pressure cooker), you might notice that I like garlic. I keep fresh garlic in the house at ALL TIMES, as in, there is never a time I don't have garlic on hand. I'm not sure if the rest of the world is like me, but I have a hack if you find yourself always without fresh garlic.
Buy a large amount of garlic (preferably peeled already). Using a mortar and pestle, smash the garlic with salt. Alternatively, pulse the garlic in a food processor (if a large amount) or use an immersion hand blender.
In a freezer-friendly storage bag or container, add the minced or smashed garlic. Press the garlic into a thin layer, and lay the garlic filled bag flat in the freezer. Any time you need some fresh garlic, break off a piece of frozen garlic. The garlic is good for about 6 months.
Frozen fresh garlic is better than jarred garlic or dried garlic granules. Garlic is such an amazing ingredient that really gets short-changed if not used to its full potential.
- Mushrooms: This sauce is packed full of mushrooms! There are two mushroom containers (each 8 oz. in size) in this sauce surprise surprise. You can use white button mushrooms or brown mushrooms.
- Garlic: I recommend using freshly mashed garlic with a mortar and pestle or using a garlic press. I don't recommend dried garlic granules, powder garlic, or garlic in a jar for this sauce because the fresh garlic is what makes this sauce good.
- Butter: You can use salted or unsalted butter. Alternatively, you can use equal parts olive oil in lieu of butter.
- Milk: I recommend using either 2% fat milk or whole milk. I have not tried making this sauce with alternative kinds of milk like oat milk, almond milk, or soy milk.
- Parmesan cheese: I recommend grating the parmesan fresh instead of buying pre-grated cheese. Cheese that's already grated is usually tossed in potato starch to prevent the individual pieces from sticking, and this can change the texture of your creamy sauce.
- Flour: I use white all-purpose flour and recommend this flour for the rue.
- Salt and pepper to taste
Tips and Tricks
- The Bechamel Sauce: The bechamel white sauce is the foundation of this sauce, and it's the hardest thing to master. This is where a good whisk comes in handy!
- Add freshly grated cheese. Pre-packaged shredded cheese has starches that affect the texture of the sauce. It doesn't take very long to freshly grate your own cheese.
- Saute the garlic butter mushrooms in a separate pan from the bechamel. The mushrooms absorb the garlic flavor better if they are separated from the bechamel while cooking. Add the bechamel and garlic mushrooms together at the end.
How To Make The Bechamel Sauce Smooth
The first time I made this creamy bechamel sauce, I tried to reduce the amount of fat to make it a bit lighter. When the flour to fat ratio is off, you might end up with lumpy sauce (like I did the first time). The second time I made this sauce, I cut down on the overall fat and flour together and kept the ratios 1:1. This resulted in a smooth and creamy sauce.
Also, I don't leave the roux on the stovetop for a long time before adding in the milk, resulting in a whiter sauce. If you cook the roux for a longer time on the stovetop, the bechamel sauce will get darker.
The creamy mushroom sauce can be made with or without the shredded cheese. Gruyere, mozzarella, Monterrey jack, or any other mild white cheese can be substituted for parmesan.
This Pasta Sauce Pairs Well With
Garlic Mushroom Cream Pasta Sauce with Parmesan
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 4 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb mushrooms
- 8 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup freshly shredded parmesan
- 2 cups milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- Wash and slice the mushrooms thinly long ways.
- In a large stovetop pan on medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Once the olive oil is hot, add the garlic and mushrooms. Cover the stovetop pan to allow the mushrooms to sweat out the moisture.
- Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes covered. Once the mushrooms are tender, remove from the heat uncovered.
- In a separate pan on medium-high heat, heat the milk. Be careful not to let it boil. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan on medium-high heat, add the butter. Once the butter starts to change colors, add the flour and stir continuously for about 1 minute. Gradually add the warm milk stirring continuously. The sauce should be thickening as you stir. If you notice lumps, just keep whisking. See note 1 below
- Add the parmesan cheese into the roux bechamel sauce and mix well. Pour the sauce over the mushrooms and mix.
- Serve atop pasta or homemade sweet potato gnocchi.
- If you get lumps in your sauce that don't go away with whisking, add 1 tablespoon of ice water.