Mushroom Pie

I sometimes think that I owe my love of mushrooms to my father who claimed that mushrooms were poisonous. Since we ate them when they were hidden in my mother’s tuna noodle casserole and none of us died, I decided that my father had to be wrong at least about some mushrooms. Like many sons, I rebelled in small ways, one of which was to develop a craving for mushrooms when I became a teenager.

I ordered pepperoni and mushroom pizzas and spent the extra dollar to top our steaks with mushrooms when my prom date and I were having dinner at a local supper club. I liked the taste of mushrooms and knew that many were considered delicacies. Mrs. Hanus, our neighbor who picked wild mushrooms and cooked many dishes with them, told me when I was eight or nine years old that her parents used to sell some kinds of mushrooms for as much as a dollar a pound. I was impressed.

Mrs. Hanus added mushrooms to her pot roast and gravy, she made mushroom soup that didn’t come out of a can and she even baked mushrooms with buckwheat to make a kind of hot dish. Although I never saw one in her kitchen, I would not be surprised if she also made mushroom pies. I am certain that she would have if she had known this recipe.

If you like mushrooms as much as I do, and if you want to observe a Meatless Monday once in a while, this mushroom pie is a tasty choice.


1/2 – 3/4 lb. mushrooms
1 large onion (3 to 4 inches in diameter)
1 medium clove garlic
2 T olive oil
1 T butter
1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. oregano
Pinches of crushed red pepper and salt
1 cup mozzarella cheese
4 oz. Neufchatel or cream cheese
1 large egg
1 T all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 nine or ten-inch pie crust


Line a nine-inch pie plate with a pie crust. Here is my recipe for Plain Pie Crust

Preheat the oven to 350º.

Clean and slice the mushrooms and set them aside in a bowl. Grate and set aside a cup of mozzarella cheese.

Remove the dry outer layers on the onion and garlic clove. Slice the onion in half lengthwise, then cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Mince the garlic.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for two or three minutes, then stir in the vinegar, lemon juice, basil, oregano, red pepper and salt. Reduce the heat and continue cooking for four minutes.

Add the mushrooms to the onion and garlic in the skillet and cook for about
three more minutes over moderate heat. Remove the skillet from the heat to let the vegetables cool to a warm room temperature.

While the vegetables are cooling, blend the Neufchatel or cream cheese with the egg. Add the flour and milk and beat until you have a smooth batter.

When the vegetable mixture is cool, stir in the mozzarella cheese and spoon the mixture into the pie crust. Spread the cream cheese topping evenly over the vegetables and sprinkle the pie with grated Parmesan cheese.

Set the pie on a center shelf in the oven and bake for forty to forty-five minutes. Check for doneness at forty minutes. If a table knife inserted near the center of the pie comes out clean, the pie is done. If it does not, cook another five minutes or so.

Cool the pie on a rack for a few minutes before serving.

NOTES: You can use either white button or baby bella mushrooms, but I think that the bellas have more flavor. You could use half of each. Incidentally, baby bella is the more common name of the Cremino or Cremini mushroom in the United States.

Use a ten-inch pie plate if you use three-quarters of a pound of mushrooms.

Paccheri With Mushroom Sauce

I sometimes attribute my fondness for mushrooms to the fact that my father claimed not to like them, a teenage rebellion that I never outgrew. My mother did not always respect his opinion, especially when it came to using cream of mushroom soup in her noodle casserole. He would sit down at the table, mutter something about poisonous mushrooms and dig in with the rest of us.

Mom’s Tuna Noodle Casserole was a popular dish with us kids. It was also one of her favorites, because it was easy to make, and even Dad approved of it, since it was a cheap way of filling up growing kids.

However, none of us would have thought of cooking Paccheri with Mushroom Sauce. We had never heard of paccheri, Mom never cooked with wine and would not have risked a battle with Dad by making a sauce of ground-up and sliced mushrooms that did not come in a can.

If you like pasta, you will probably enjoy Paccheri. They are large tubes cut in inch-long sections. There are many recipes for stuffed paccheri that I am tempted to try sometime, but this recipe for paccheri with a mushroom sauce is a quick and simple way to put a tasty dish on the table to please anyone who likes mushrooms.

As you can tell from the photo, it is not a particularly colorful dish. Most edible mushrooms are white or various shades of brown and gray, and once they are cooked and puréed the result unfortunately looks like fresh concrete.

But the flavor!! If you enjoy mushrooms, I can promise you that you will not be disappointed. You can use white button mushrooms, but I think that crimini (baby bella) mushrooms have more flavor, and you can combine mushrooms if you wish. A good combination is a half and half mixture of crimini and shitake mushrooms.

The basic recipe comes from Ciao Italia, the longest running television cooking program on PBS. I changed it a little to suit our tastes. Here is what I did and what I recommend.


3/4 lb. mushrooms, divided
4 T unsalted butter
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 and 1/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
12 oz. package of paccheri
Water for cooking the pasta
Parsley for garnish


Put two or three quarts of water in a large saucepan over moderate heat.

Wash and slice the mushrooms. Melt the butter in a nine-inch skillet or saucepan over moderate heat. Add a cup of the mushrooms and the pine nuts and cook them for five or six minutes until the mushrooms are soft. Transfer the mixture to a blender cup or food processor and make a nice gray purée.

Mince the garlic while the mushrooms and pine nuts are cooking.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over low heat, add the garlic and cook for about two minutes. Do not brown the garlic. Put the remaining mushrooms into the pan, raise the heat to moderate and cook for about four minutes, stirring often.

The pasta cooking water should be boiling by about this time. Add a teaspoon of salt and the paccheri and cook to al dente, about sixteen minutes.

Stir a quarter teaspoon of salt and a half cup of wine into the mushrooms and garlic in the skillet. Reduce the heat when the mixture comes to a simmer, stir in the purée and keep the sauce warm while the pasta finishes cooking.

Test the paccheri for doneness. Drain the pasta, reserving a half cup of the cooking water.

Add the paccheri and the half cup of cooking water to the sauce in the skillet. Sprinkle a quarter cup of Parmesan cheese and grind about an eighth teaspoon of black pepper over the mixture. Mix thoroughly, taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve with a garden salad, bread and the same wine used for the sauce. Garnish with parsley and pass the remaining grated cheese.

NOTES: I tend to use sauvignon blanc or Chardonnay wine when a recipe calls for dry white wine, but there are lots of good Italian wines such as Soave that an Italian might prefer.