Mushroom Leek Pasta

What do I do on a Friday night by myself while Mark is away?  I make something with mushrooms because Mark is not a fungi fan. Cooking on Friday nights always feels like a bit of a chore to me – after a long week at work, I want something super simple to put on the table in a hurry. This dish fits the bill perfectly.

I was also inspired by the conversations happening all over the web about food bloggers cooking elaborate meals vs the large proportion of Americans who rely on convenience foods on a daily basis. Michael Ruhlman stirred the pot with a BIG spoon this week, and I adore him for using his prominence in the food world to get conversation flowing. Ruhlman’s premise is that we’re being sold a raft of 30-minute meals as designed by corporate food scientists that includes frozen bags and boxes of who-knows-what, when you can get real, home-cooked food on the table in that same amount of time. Simple, un-fancy food is mostly what’s served in our house. I know I mostly blog about the more special meals because maybe you don’t want to know that we eat some version of bacon-egg slurry pretty much every week.

Anita, of Married with Dinner, crafted the perfect response to Ruhlman, which you should go read immediately (or, as soon as you finish reading this post- right?!). Anita admits that sometimes cooking is even too much work for her, and confides that simple meals are what grace her table a majority of the time. Amen, sister! Each time I read a blogger admit this, I sigh in deep relief that I am not the only one feeling a little pressure to show you all the “good stuff,” when everyday fare really rules the day.

My secret? I do 80-90% of my cooking for the entire week on the weekend. I get all of our breakfasts and lunches knocked-out for the entire week, chop veggies and portion them in snack bags for quick snacks and get 3 dinner meals for the week done and in storage containers for easy re-heating mid-week. I’m no different from anyone else – after a day in the office, I want to come home and get to relaxing as soon as possible, so a dinner of chili or soup with a green salad is typical weeknight fare. This pasta dish is simple, hearty, and can be on the table in 20 minutes – perfect for a Friday night.

What are your top tricks for cooking healthy food at home, while avoiding being a slave to your kitchen?  Share your kitchen hacks in the comments section below…

Mushroom and Leek Pasta
Serves 1

1 leek, white part only, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 T butter
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
3 T cooking sherry
salt to taste
3 oz brown rice penne, uncooked
fresh grated parmesan to garnish

  1. Bring 3qt of salted water to a boil for the pasta.  When the water has come to a rolling boil, add the pasta, stir and cook for until al dente (about 9min for Trader Joe’s brown rice penne). While the pasta cooks, saute the veggies. Heat a pan over medium heat and add the butter, leeks, mushrooms, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked and leeks are soft and wilted. Add the sherry, stir, and turn off the burner and set the pan aside until the pasta is done.  Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the vegetables and toss to coat. Add the parmesan cheese, stir then serve.
627 cal per bowl, 210 cal from fat, 24g fat, 55mg cholesterol, 550mg sodium, 560mg potassium, 87g carbs, 5g fiber, 8g sugar, 15g protein