Fiesta Friday | Rigatoni with Mushroom and Spinach Tomato Cream Sauce

Happy Fiesta Friday, everyone! Angie’s party is always my most social event of the week! πŸ˜€

My dish for FF8 is rigatoni pasta in a mushroom and spinach tomato cream sauce. There are a bunch of other ingredients in the sauce, but I didn’t think “Rigatoni with Onion, Bell Pepper, Garlic, Mushroom, Pancetta, Tomato, Cream, and Wine Sauce” had a nice ring to it. Anyhow, I thought I’d bring a nice creamy, carb-loaded dish to the party since people are starting to think I’m super healthy with my avocado, chia, and green smoothie recipes. I wish I made healthier food choices all the time, but alas, my tastebuds lean toward fatty, deep-fried, and sugary. Terrible, I know. But oh so satisfying! πŸ˜‰

Now here’s my recipe. Please feel free to add, omit, and substitute to your heart’s content. If you want a vegetarian version, simply leave out the pancetta. Don’t have any pancetta? Use some bacon. Don’t have bacon? Use Italian sausage. (Which is really great and how I originally made this pasta sauce.) The key to this sauce is taking the time to cook everything down, down, down. This process allows the flavors to intensify and blend together. So take your time, sip some wine, and stir away!

Rigatoni with Mushroom and Spinach Tomato Cream Sauce


  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 package baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 package baby spinach
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • 8 oz. pancetta, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • parmesan cheese
  • 16 oz. rigatoni


Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large pan. Saute the onion, bell peppers, and mushrooms on medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes, or until softened and slightly caramelized. (The amount of veggies will seem like a lot, but they will cook down a great deal.) Add the pancetta and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the cream and let simmer 10-15 minutes, or until the cream has reduced and thickened. Stir in the red wine and crushed tomatoes and simmer an additional 15-20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. I salt this sauce at the end since everything cooks down and you don’t want it to be overly salty, especially if you had it perfectly seasoned at the start.

Meanwhile cook the rigatoni according to package instructions. One minute before the rigatoni is done, remove the tomato cream sauce from the heat and gently fold in the spinach. Drain the pasta well and add it to the pot. The residual heat from the sauce and pasta will be enough to wilt the spinach.

Top with shaved parmesan cheese and enjoy!

I actually had time to take an ingredients shot today!
I actually had time to take an ingredients shot today!
Still loving my Takamura knife. It makes chopping a most enjoyable activity.
Still loving my Takamura knife. It makes chopping a most enjoyable activity.
Left: what the veggies should look like before adding the pancetta Right: What the cream should look like before adding the wine and crushed tomatoes
Left: what the veggies should look like before adding the pancetta
Right: What the cream should look like before adding the wine and crushed tomatoes
It looks like there's too much spinach, but it'll wilt down to almost nothing!
It looks like there’s too much spinach, but it’ll wilt down to almost nothing!
I usually prefer parmigiano reggiano, but had to make do with regular ol' parmesan.
I usually prefer parmigiano reggiano, but had to make do with regular ol’ parmesan.
Needs more cheese.
Needs more cheese.
One thing about daylight savings time is that I have more time to cook and shoot!
One good thing about daylight savings time is that I have more time to cook and shoot!
Forkful of pasta. Oh yeah.
Forkful of pasta. Oh yeah.

Now for a couple of cell phone pullbacks of my shooting set-up:

Can you spot Bailey?
Can you spot Bailey? (I realize this looks a bit on the dark side, but I blame that on the cell phone camera.)
I usually have the shutters pulled all the way back, but the sun was still too high and I had to diffuse the harsh rays.
I usually have the shutters pulled all the way back, but the sun was still too high and I had to block the harsh rays.


  1. Yes, please, I’ll take ALL the carbs. This dish is more better, if you ask me. πŸ™‚ I love seeing your photography setup–it’s making me more aware when taking photos. Plus, Bailey is so cute, hiding there!

    • Mmm…carbs…they are my bff (don’t tell Bailey!). My wish is to have a home where I can have my own little photography studio. It’s sort of annoying to have to use my dining room!

      • Yes, I can imagine it must be hard for you, Patty. You take such exquisite photos! I love how artful you are in your craft. I read on a blog that this woman takes photos in her bathroom because that’s where the best lighting is. I guess we all just do what we can. πŸ™‚ But I hope you get your studio someday. Please pass the pasta, again!

  2. Patty, you didn’t link your photo, hon. I can link it for you if you want. Any of them will do, they’re all beautiful shots and they’re making me very hungry! I have a weakness for pasta of all kinds and your rigatoni makes my mouth water. YUM!

      • School got in the way? Don’t tell my principal, I was viewing the links in school. Hahaha… was too excited to see what everybody was bringing and couldn’t wait! This comment is safe on your site, right? Shhh…

      • I have the day off!!!! Wheeeee! So we’re all safe!! πŸ˜‰ I’m leaving for Monterey in about half an hour and I’ve been making my way through all the posts for the fiesta. I was able to read through and comment on every one so far!

  3. Love, love, love this post!! Everything about it is sooo awesome!, The recipe is simply mouth watering – and you know I am a big fan of your photos! Love those of the cooking process, especially the parmesan one, lovely! And I really love to see your behind-the-scenes shots, I am learning a lot from them! πŸ™‚ I decided, I really need to get some foam board to reflect back some light when shooting in front of a window! Thanks for another delightful post and contribution to FF! πŸ™‚

    • You’re so sweet, Sylvia! I was happy I had time to take more pictures of the cooking process this time. I need more hours in the day so I can enjoy my hobbies! Let me know if you decide to get a foam board and what you think of it! πŸ™‚

  4. Patty- this looks so, so, so, so good!!! Can I come over?! πŸ™‚ And your pics are amazing, as usual! Love seeing Bailey down there watching you!

      • Patty- I’m convinced we would have lots of fun! We’d cook, hang out with Bailey, take some photos (of which I would watch you closely so I could learn from you πŸ™‚ ), we’d eat. we’d probably make a mess, and we’d laugh a lot! πŸ™‚

  5. Patty, your photos are gorgeous! I love the one by the window at the end… really pretty. And needless to say… what a tasty looking pasta dish!! love all the ingredients and how you treated them

  6. I’m making a hearty pasta tonight that’s similar to this. Now I wish I had peppers around. Oh well, I’ll have to try it out your way some time soon. I love the behind the scene pics! I struggle with taking good pictures, so you’re a great person to learn from!

  7. Oh, love that creamy sauce! Thank you for posting the photo shoot setup shots – I am trying to figure out better angles, lighting, etc. You are an amazing photographer and I love your creations in the kitchen, Patty! Happy Friday! -Laura

  8. Ah, Patty! You should offer photography classes someday! Your photos are too awesome. I will be the first to sign up. πŸ˜‰ I know it’s probably a silly question, but what is Fiesta Friday? Seems to be a bandwagon that I should consider jumping on?

      • OMG…where would you teach? Aren’t you in CA somewhere? I would love to learn more! I went to a food photography seminar by Helen Dujardin (from the blog, Tartelette) last year…it was incredible!

        And thanks for the link…will definitely check it out! πŸ˜‰

  9. Looks delicious, Patty (as usual)! What do you mean not healthy? Spinach, tomatoes — healthy! Love the cute pull-backs, too — great insider view πŸ™‚

  10. As everyone has already said, your photography is absolutely amazing! That bell pepper and parmesan process shots are fantastic.. makes me want to cook! And Bailey is soooo cute peeking in from the window like that! And thanks for sharing the process photos.. it’s like a picture tutorial on how it’s done! πŸ™‚

  11. Patty…you rocked this one right out of the house!! Holy smokes, this is a beautiful dish. I’m so excited about it!! Yum!! We have the same towel….the green one that reminds me of a bandana!! Lol.. I love that darn thing. Use it in a lot of my photos. I loved how you shared your photo set up… that’s so cool. It’s one thing that I really need to work on. Ok, one of many things I need to work on, but you, my friend, have mastered this. I’m so impressed, and so happy to know you. ❀

    • Did you get it at Target, Prudy?? I love it, too! It goes with pretty much everything! And you’re so sweet with your compliments. I had to share what you wrote with my boyfriend and he says you’re so kind and supportive! I’m so very happy to know you as well, Prudy!! xoxoxo

  12. Such a treat to the eyes, Patty! We have been analysing your pictures and hopefully learning πŸ™‚ . BTW we made a version of your triple berry green smoothie. We basically used your listed ingredients and a few others. Do you mind if we put it up and then link it back to yours? Also, of course we can spot Bailey. We can spot him all the way from Cincinnati ;).

  13. Aren’t the days lengthening just great for taking more shots? It’s usually so hectic to try and get everything ready by a certain time. Now I can start to relax more and enjoy the cooking process.
    That’s spicy! You like your crushed red peppers. I’ve recently bought thee most gorgeous cayenne pepper, that’s almost orange red and smells kind of sweet. A quarter teaspoon for one person and that’s nicely hot.

  14. My mouth is watering! The sauce looks so savory. And yes, thank heavens for more daylight…I was always scrambling to shoot all my shots on the weekends in the winter because by the time I get home from work on the weekdays, the sun had already gone down.

    By the way is that “white wood” actually wallpaper? Lol very clever Patty


    • Rakhi, the white wood is a photography backdrop! I use the 3Γ—2 size, which is perfect for food shots. They run about $20 for the smallest size at Ink & Elm. I just purchased a few more and can’t wait until they get here!

  15. AHHHH Thank you for giving me something else to Pin and make for dinner this week, looks AMAZING!!!!!!

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