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 :)
Kale, Walnut and Mushroom Orecchiette (pasta)
I use swiss brown mushrooms here, but regular button mushrooms work just as well. You can use whatever pasta you like. Nutritional yeast adds a bit of a savoury cheese note, but can easily be left out if preferred.
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 30 min
Kale, Walnut and Mushroom Orecchiette
200g mushrooms, 1 cm slices (I use swiss brown) **
4 tbls olive oil (+ more to serve)
300g orecchiette (or favourite pasta) **
150g | 1 medium onion, finely sliced
3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
80g | 3/4 cup raw walnuts, roughly chopped
125ml | 1/2 cup water (preferably pasta cooking water)
85g | 1-2 handfuls of cavelo nero (Tuscan kale), veins removed and finely sliced
2-3 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
Zest and juice of half a lemon
Ground black pepper
Put a medium pot of salted water on to boil (I boil it in an electric kettle to speed things up).
In a large lidded frypan over medium heat, cook the mushrooms in 3 tbls olive oil with a few pinches of salt for 5 min, stirring reguarly till they release their liquid and are starting to brown.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water as per packet instructions.
Add the onion to the mushrooms and sauté for another 4-5 min till softened, before adding the garlic and walnuts. Fry for 2 min till fragrant, then add 1/2 cup of the water your pasta is cooking in. Cover with a lid for 2 min, then remove lid and stir through the kale. Cook for a final 2 min till wilted.
Remove from heat and add nutritional yeast, if using, another tbls of olive oil, a few more pinches of salt and the lemon zest and juice. Taste and add more salt or lemon (if desired), and plenty of black pepper.
Toss the cooked pasta with the mushroom and kale mixture, and serve with a final drizzle of olive oil and some fresh flat leave parsley, if you like.
Will keep airtight refrigerated for 3 days, best fresh.