This has to be our favourite weeknight meal of the moment! A delicious orecchiette pasta tossed with kale, mushrooms and walnuts, and flavoured with lots of garlic and lemon. Kirk even insisted to me last night that it is his favourite pasta… Though I’m pretty sure he said that last time I posted a pasta recipe. Either way, this fella loves pasta, so it’s high praise either way!
What makes a meal weeknight-friendly? Obviously everyone has a different prerequisite as to what they need in terms of midweek cooking – I need it to be done in under 40min, and not require more than 1 – 2 pans. Obviously the quicker the better, and extra brownie points to recipes that leave lunch box suitable leftovers for Kirk to take to work (this is one of them!).
Apart from batch cooking on the weekend (which I definitely partake in), there are a couple of tricks for evening meals I’ve learnt over the years. I’ve said this pasta is on the table in 35 min, but to be honest that is a generous estimate, due to the following…
One of my tricks for speedy pasta is to boil the water in an electric kettle first, before filling the saucepan. It is amazing how much quicker a kettle can boil water than on the stove, and it definitely gets food on the table quicker. You can even do this before you start cooking, or get a family member to do it for you. I also use this trick when making soups (boiled water and stock cube/paste, instead of cold stock). It can cut 10 min off your recipe’s cooking time.
Another trick for cooking quickly is to utilise idle time: unless I’m cooking a stirfry (in which case I would prepare/cut up most components first), I almost always cut up veg as I’m cooking. In this particular recipe I would boil the kettle, cut the mushrooms and put them on to cook, before putting on the pasta and cutting up the onion, garlic and walnuts. I’d then cut up the kale whilst the onions cooked. These types of recipes don’t require constant stirring due to their being cooked at a lower temperature (than a stirfry), so it’s a really easy way to save time during the week.
Finally, I choose ingredients for midweek recipes that don’t take much time to prepare or cook – leafy greens and herbs are a mainstay in our house, as well as pre-cooked beans, onions and garlic (always!), tinned tomatoes and easy to chop veg like broccoli or zucchini. I generally leave root veg and pumpkin for weekend cooking, unless it’s soup (which doesn’t require much standing over and therefore I don’t mind a bit of chopping time).
Hope these tips are helpful to you. I would love to know what ways you cut down on cooking time during the week! Let me know in the comments before :)