Creamy Mushroom and Arugula Pasta 3

I first became a vegetarian when I was about 13.  I grew up going to sleep away camp in New Hampshire every year, and one year I made this friend who everyone thought was the coolest girl ever.  She was a vegetarian, and so from then on I was too.  That pretty much lasted until the summer after high school.

The summer after high school I was lucky enough to take a trip to Italy with our history teacher from high school and a bunch of my friends/classmates.  Our first stop was Rome, and I remember that one of the first meals I ordered there was lasagna.  I didn’t speak any Italian at all, so when I saw something I recognized on the menu I jumped at it.

When the lasagna came to the table, it was filled with meat.  At first I was super bummed out, but I realized that maybe it was just easier for me to get over it and, as the saying goes, “when in Rome!” (I mean, I was literally in Rome after all).

After the trip it wasn’t long until I went away to college.  College for me was probably different then college for most people.  Since it was culinary school, a lot of my new experiences had more to do with adventurous foods than anything else.  I figured it was probably just going to continue to be easier to eat meat, since I got to eat for free in the dining room where the culinary students got to practice being cooks in a kitchen and waiters.  Free food was very high ranking to me back then.  But that, I think, is quite the same for most college kids.  Except that I got to eat things like Aspic instead of ramen noodles, which I promise is just as gross as it sounds.

Creamy Mushroom and Arugula Pasta 2

Anyway, for whatever reason I just kept on eating meat for a few years.  Until about 5 years ago when I realized that I don’t like it.  But now I forget that some of the foods I used to really like to make and eat would be so much better without meat!!  This pasta dish is based on a Giada De Laurentiis recipe for a calzone which contained sausage.  This way is a lot healthier, easier, and meat free (yay!).  When I made it the first time, I put 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds in there, and loved the flavor, but Hubby thought it was a little over powering.  He is usually right about things, so I went with half for this final version.  But feel free to play with your own seasoning to make it your fave.

Health highlights of portabella mushrooms:  A new and surprising find in the world of mushrooms is that, like humans, they produce vitamin D in the sunlight.  Some studies have shown that they can actually produce enough vitamin D to reverse a deficiency!  Vitamin D is an area much research has been focused on in recent years, and they have linked low vitamin D to a range of health issues including heart disease, cancer, obesity and osteoporosis.  Portabellas are also good sources of B vitamins, iron, fiber, potassium, and many other minerals as well as antioxidants!

Creamy Mushroom and Arugula Pasta 1

Creamy Mushroom and Arugula Pasta
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 10 oz box Pasta (I use this spelt pasta – it is not gluten free)
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion – diced
  • 2 Portabella Mushroom caps – diced
  • ¼ teaspoon Fennel Seed (whole seeds)
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese (use vegan cream cheese to make this vegan)
  • 15 oz can Diced Tomatoes
  • 5 oz Fresh Arugula (about 4 cups)
  • ¼ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
  • Sea Salt (to taste)
  1. Bring a medium-large pot of water to a boil
  2. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, drain and set aside
  3. In a large pan add the oil, onion and mushrooms
  4. Saute until the onions and mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes
  5. Add the fennel seeds and cook an additional minute
  6. Add the cream cheese, tomatoes, arugula, and crushed pepper
  7. Stir with the heat still on, until the cream cheese melts into the vegetables and the arugula wilts
  8. Add the pasta and stir
  9. Season with salt to taste
  10. Serve and enjoy!!


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