A friend asked me last week which recipes on this site are suitable for quick after work dinner preparations, or which can be made in advance in order to make an easy post-work dinner. In my current state of flexible life and work arrangements, I sometimes forget the all-consuming tiredness after a long, busy and stressful day in the office.
Cooking has always relaxed me, so even during those busy work times or long days I would look forward to getting home and making dinner. I realise that not everyone shares this passion for cooking, and some people dread the after work dinner challenge. So I’ve introduced a new category to the site this week, called “Quick & Easy”. To this category I’ve added a couple of easy week-night meals (or ones which can be cooked in advance, frozen and reheated at your convenience) already on the site, such as:
- Wraps with chilli con veggie – anyone who has been to my place on a weeknight will probably have been served this; super easy to make, easily adaptable to any diet or dislike and one of my favourites
- Penne with yoghurt, peas and preserved lemons – I swear Barth asks for this at least once a week, it can be made in the same time the pasta takes to cook
- Coconut quinoa with zucchini, mushrooms and broccoli – for a healthy evening in
- Lentil bolognaise or this spicy carrot soup with green zest – both good to make a batch in advance and freeze.
This pasta recipe today also falls into this category. In September last year, my friend Sarah and I attended a “Dressings, Sauces and Condiments” class with Mike from the seasonal and delicious canteen Kitchen by Mike. He showed us how to make this dressing and mentioned that its perfect with lamb. I’ve teamed it up here with some other (vegetable) friends of rosemary, namely mushrooms and bitter greens, added some butter beans for protein and mixed it up with wholemeal spaghetti for carbs. Rosemary is supposed to aid the memory/concentration and reduce anxiety and stress, so again its perfect for after work!
You will only need a third to half of the dressing in the quantity below for your pasta. In addition to lamb, the leftovers are great to use as a salad dressing (I had it for lunch today with greens, tomato, and avocado), or mopped up with some fresh sourdough bread.
The dressing only takes a couple of minutes to make with a food processor/blender, or you can make it in advance on the weekend for an even easier meal during the week. The rest of the meal can be thrown together in the time it takes to cook your pasta, and mostly consists of pantry items. I don’t think it really needs any parmesan to serve as the flavour from the walnuts and rosemary can stand alone, however Barth thought the parmesan cheese was a great serving addition (you can take the boy out of Holland, but you can’t take Holland out of the boy…). Serves two adults.
Pasta With Rosemary Walnut Dressing
- 250g wholemeal spaghetti or other pasta
- 1 shallot (or 1/2 brown onion), finely chopped
- 4 large flat mushrooms, sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 1 x 400g tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed
- 100g fresh baby kale, baby spinach or rucola (or a mixture of all three)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Parmesan cheese (optional) for serving
Rosemary and walnut dressing
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 large bunch of fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and roughly chopped
- 1 large handful of walnuts
- 200ml good-quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 lemon
- Prepare the dressing by adding the garlic, sea salt, rosemary leaves and walnuts to a food processor or blender. Blend until the ingredients are roughly combined, then slowly add the olive oil until it forms into a dressing, but still has some texture. Squeeze in some lemon juice to taste, and season with pepper (and more salt if necessary). Set aside. This will make around 300-350mL of dressing, but you won’t need it all for the pasta.
- Cook the pasta in boiling water and then drain once al dente, reserving about half a cup of the cooking water.
- While the pasta water is coming to the boil, saute the shallot in some olive oil in a separate large saucepan over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until they begin to release liquid. Add in the butter beans and chilli flakes and cook for another couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper and another squeeze of the lemon.
- Once the pasta is ready, add the half cup of reserved water to the mushrooms and beans and let it cook and reduce for a minute or so. Add the pasta into the saucepan, and stir it for another minute. Remove from heat and stir in the baby kale, spinach and rucola until it wilts. Spoon some of the walnut and rosemary dressing through the pasta (I used a couple of tablespoons-err on the side of less, as you can always add more). Serve immediately, with parmesan cheese if using. Bottle leftover rosemary and walnut dressing in a jar and keep at room temperature.