This Orecchiette with Mushroom Thyme Sauce features pasta coated with a creamy, flavorful sauce – and it’s easy enough to make for a weeknight meal!
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Little ears. That’s the literal translation of orecchiette (orecchio + -etto). And that’s what we call it here in our house – little ears pasta. As noted a couple of weeks ago, mac and cheese is a staple in Robbie’s diet. (Oh, who am I kidding? Mac and cheese is a staple in my diet, too!) On mac and cheese nights, we typically open the pantry and use whatever pasta we happen to have lying around. Recently, that meant he got ‘little ears mac and cheese’ for dinner. He was rather amused by that name!
Orecchiette is a type of pasta that hails from the Apulia region of Italy (i.e. the heel of the “boot” at the southern tip of the country). The name comes from the fact that orecchiette looks like little ears. (According to legend, orecchiette was invented as a way to use every last bit of pasta dough.) While this type of pasta might not be as common as penne or spaghetti, it is widely available here in the States. You should be able to find it fairly easily at any grocery store.
The concave shape of this pasta makes it perfect for cream sauces – the sauce gets caught in the ‘ear’ and makes for one heck of a good bite! And speaking of creamy pasta sauces, the sauce used in this Orecchiette with Mushroom Thyme Sauce recipe is amazing. It’s flavorful and easy enough to make on a weeknight – that’s my kinda meal right there!
Orecchiette with Mushroom Thyme Sauce
I first stumbled across the idea of a mushroom thyme pasta sauce in the cookbook that came with our pasta machine. To be fair, cookbook is a generous term here. It was more of a small instruction manual with a couple of orecchiette recipes at the back. Oh, and it was in Italian.
With the help of google, I managed to get the gist of that mushroom thyme sauce. It sounded tasty, so I put it on the menu here recently. Tasty is an understatement of the year! Granted, I did make some adjustments to this recipe like adding bacon (because bacon!) and a bit of cornstarch (to thicken the sauce).
I’ll be the first to admit that mushrooms haven’t always been a favorite. I enjoy the flavor, but I can’t get past the spongy texture. However, when the mushrooms are cooked in this sauce and then served with pasta? Count me in! The thicker nature of orecchiette pasta paired quite well with the mushrooms. The taste is spot-on!
I added bacon to this recipe, but to keep it a bit more authentic to its Italian roots you could use cooked Italian sausage instead. If you want to make this dish a bit spicier, finish it with a generous sprinkling of red pepper flakes!
After just one bite, this Orecchiette with Mushroom Thyme Sauce absolutely landed on a spot on our list of favorite pasta dishes. The depth of flavor is incredible, and it’s an easy recipe to make. I hope you enjoy this one as much as we do!
Did you make this Orecchiette with Mushroom Thyme Sauce at home? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog) – I’d love to see your version!
Orecchiette with Mushroom Thyme Sauce
- Using a large skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Transfer bacon to a paper-towel lined plate and drain most of the excess bacon grease from the skillet. (Tip: Leave ~2 tsp of grease in the skillet for flavor.)
- Meanwhile, cook orecchiette until al dente (according to package instructions). Once cooked, drain and set aside.
- Add butter and sliced mushrooms to the skillet and place over medium heat.
- Sauté for 3-4 minutes without stirring. Flip mushrooms over, add the garlic and continue sautéing for 3-4 more minutes without stirring.
- Using a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and half-and-half together. Add this mixture to the skillet along with milk, crumbled cooked bacon (from above), salt, pepper, thyme and Parmesan cheese; stir until well combined.
- Simmer mixture over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, or until sauce has thickened.
- Add cooked orecchiette to skillet and toss until well combined.
Looking for more tasty pasta recipes? Check out these other favorites, too: