I’m often asked by readers to provide quick and easy meals for busy families. To be quite honest, I’m really not a cook who goes out of her way to make most things, so quick and easy is my preferred style. I don’ t have the time or the desire (usually) to complicate my life by running back and forth to the grocery store for exotic ingredients. I love to use what I have on hand. I take one look into the fridge and in my cabinets to see what’s there and my mind begins to calculate a recipe. Hey, is there an App for that?
Basil Preservation Tip
I had a lot of basil this summer in my balcony garden, which I froze. Basil freezes perfectly well when you cover it with olive oil, keeping it in a freezer safe container for about 3 months. Simply bring it back to room temperature or throw it into soups and stews for some of the most delicious additons to meals, without buying expensive fresh herbs at the grocery store- especially when it’s out of season.
In this recipe, you could use frozen vegetables, though I think fresh is best. Buying them already cut will save you time. I love to chop and dice in the kitchen- it relaxes me. If it doesn’t have the same effects on you, just get the pre-cut fresh packages of mushrooms, broccoli, carrots and whatever types of veggies you’d love in this dish. The point is that it’s a delicous way of cooking so once you get the idea, you can substitute any of your favorite, healthy additions.
Vegetable Basil Penne Pasta
1 pound penne pasta + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 2 more tablespoons (optional)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup yellow onions, diced
1 pound white button mushrooms, edge of stems removed
1 Roma tomato, diced
2 cups broccoli florets
4 garlic cloves, preferably roasted, cut in half
1 teaspoon dried basil
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
My Mushroom Cleaning Tip: Fill a large bowl with cool water. Place the mushrooms in the water and swish around with your hands to make sure they all get a chance to be cleaned in the water. Allow to sit for just a few minutes. Remove the mushrooms by hand, without dumping any of the water out. Place the mushrooms on a cotton towel or paper towel. Use the towel to gently dry the mushrooms and remove any excess dirt from them.
- Cook the penne pasta according to package instructions. Drain and allow to cool, adding a bit of olive oil to the finished pasta to avoid any sticking.
- Clean and prep the mushrooms and all other vegetables, making sure they are completely dried before cooking.
- In a deep sauté pan, heat butter and oil together. When it has warmed, add the onions. Sauté until translucent, then add the mushrooms.
- Continue to cook the mushrooms until they have browned nicely, about 3 minutes.
- Add the tomato, broccoli and garlic, dried basil, salt and pepper. Sauté for another 3-4 minutes.
- Add the fresh basil. If using basil that has been frozen in olive oil, you will not need to add any more oil; if using fresh basil, you may want to add additional oil at this point.
- Give the vegetables a stir, until the basil has wilted. Add the cooked pasta, stir again. Add the fresh Parmesan cheese just before serving.