Creamy Pasta with Bacon, Mushrooms & Spinach

Well, there’s no question that it’s winter now, is there?! We finally have snow (yay!) and some rather freezing temperatures to keep it with us for a while.

This calls for nothing but belly-warming, comforting food. This pasta, while it does require 2 pans, is really easy to put together and it definitely fills the tall order of comfort that this time of year demands. I love dishes like this, because you can do almost all of the prep while the first part of it is cooking, AND you can clean up much of it while the second part is finishing – truly efficient!

What’s more? Once you have the basic technique down, it’s easy enough to change up some of the ingredients and flavorings.

Creamy Pasta with Bacon, Mushrooms & Spinach

Serves 4-6

1 lb. pasta, shape is up to you, but should be one that holds sauce

4-5 strips thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into ¼ inch thick strips

14-16 oz. mushrooms, sliced

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves

1 tsp. chili flakes, or less – use according to your taste

½ c. dry white wine

½ c. chicken or vegetable stock

½ c. heavy cream

2-3 heaping cups of spinach

Zest and juice of a lemon

½ c. pecorino-romano cheese

¼ c. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped


  1. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over high heat.
  2. In the meantime, heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat is rendered and it’s nice and crispy. Remove it from the pan and drain on paper towels.
  3. Depending on how fatty your bacon is, you may need to remove a little of the bacon fat from the pan – you want to be left with about 2 tablespoons of fat in the pan.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the mushrooms.  The key here is to leave them alone for 3-4 minutes and let them start to get golden brown.  Next, toss them around and let them sit for another few minutes before stirring them around – well caramelized mushrooms make for a superior tasting final dish!
  4. Add the pasta to the boiling water – stirring occasionally.
  5. When the mushrooms are nice and golden, turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic, thyme and chili flakes and stir around for a couple of minutes. Add a large pinch of salt and pepper. (*If you find your pan too dry, you can add back a little bacon fat or a drizzle of olive oil).
  6. Next, add the wine and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Let the wine reduce until there’s only about a tablespoon of liquid in the pan.
  7. Add the stock and the cream and let it simmer and start to reduce and thicken.
  8. At this point, your pasta should be al dente or even a little under-cooked – that is good.  Add about a ½ cup of the pasta water into the saute pan and then scoop out the pasta and add it directly to the saute pan – allowing it to finish cooking.  
  9. Add the spinach and continue to stir everything around so that it will wilt.
  10. Add another big pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
  11. When everything is well-coated and the sauce is thickened, turn off the heat and add the pecorino, lemon zest and parsley. Add a little squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Stir everything around until well incorporated and taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary (sauce will continue to thicken as it sits).  ENJOY!


  • Do I have to use bacon?  No, you can substitute pancetta, if you like, or omit it altogether. I chose bacon in this because I like the hint of smokiness that it adds. If you omit, then just start with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to saute your mushrooms in.
  • Don’t want to use wine? You can omit the wine and substitute stock in its place.
  • Want to use the wine, but don’t have a dry white? You could easily substitute a red (lighter is better – pinot noir, merlot, etc.) – it’s a very small amount that’s used in the end, but it does add real depth of flavor.
  • Want to substitute parmesan cheese? Sure!

Hello, I’m Natalie!  I’m a professionally-trained chef, culinary instructor and recipe developer living in Ann Arbor.  A career change, a trip through culinary school 20 years ago, and being a lifelong Julia Child enthusiast has led me to a career doing my very favorite thing:  making food and cooking approachable to home cooks of all ages!   

My passion for creating great food experiences and getting people excited about learning and having fun in the kitchen is always at the heart of what I do.  You can find me at  And on social media you can find me at @NatalieMarbleCooks.  Sign up for my bi-weekly email newsletter here, where I share family-friendly recipes, tips & tricks, new class information, and hopefully a little inspiration!