Here’s how quickly this meal was made. It was a generic midweek evening, and a friend called to say ‘Hey, are you almost home? Come over and watch [insert generic midweek TV show name here].’ The response was a resounding OK, followed by a quick look at the clock to check the time. Less than 30 minutes remained before said TV show’s beginning, but for some reason, there was a desire to cook up dinner to share for the evening. It was in this short span of time that one of the easiest pasta meals ever was born. There should be much more to say about it than that, but honestly, there’s no need to when all you really want to know is how to make it for yourself, right? So let’s get to it.
Usually you’ll hear the woes of the overworked parent who does not know what to make, and clearly does not want to make anything at all, for dinner. It’s a burdensome and necessary evil as buttered toast and a popsicle for the day’s last meal only works for college students. Of course, if you’re like us, then you may not be married. You may be an overworked professional in your 20’s who is just busy, and you cringe at the idea of spending an hour in the kitchen when you could be relaxing on someone else’s couch. The best way to relieve your stress is to stick with staples that cook fairly quickly–pasta and vegetables. You can get the pasta going in a pot of boiling water right away, then by the time it is perfectly aldente, your pile of fresh veggies are ready to go as well. Let’s say you made an entire box of pasta one night, and now you have leftovers in the fridge that have yet to be touched by any other ingredient. Toss the cooked and naked pasta into a metal, heat-resistant colander, then dip into boiling water for 1-2 minutes–just to rejuvenate the goods. Remove from the water, and you have re-heated pasta all ready to go.
The dish below could easily feature whatever box of dry pasta you have on hand. The leeks could be shallots, the asparagus could be broccoli, the mushrooms could be tomatoes, the cream cheese could just be cream. You get the point right? This is a great kitchen clean-out dish that would serve your needs based on the time you have on hand. The options are endless. Not only that, but you have plenty of time to zip over to your friend’s couch for a little relaxation on a full belly. And that, friends, is priceless.
Linguine with Portobello Mushrooms, Asparagus and Leeks – Serves 6
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 large leeks, sliced
2 large portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 pound asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 ounces linguine, cooked and kept warm
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a wide pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and leeks and cook approximately 1-2 minutes. Stir often to keep the garlic from burning. Add the portobello mushrooms, tossing to coat in the oil and garlic, cooking another 2-3 minutes.
2. Stir in the asparagus, along with the lemon juice, cream cheese and butter. Continue cooking until the asparagus begins to soften but still maintains a bit of crunch, approximately 4-6 minutes.
3. Toss the pasta into the pan, in addition to the remaining olive oil and salt. Combine everything well and serve immediately.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.