Few dishes that march through our kitchen ever get a second chance at being made. With this whole blog thing, there’s a fairly high turnover in meals that need to be brainstormed, developed, photographed, edited, and posted. Why waste time on creating one more than once when endless inspiration is awaiting you?
Because, as I realized with this pasta, sometimes a meal is too freaking good not to make a staple.
This pasta dish came about one night when we were both on the verge of an epic hanger meltdown, and it has since become a crave-worthy meal that I alllllways make sure we have the ingredients for on hand.
It was one of those nights where a late lunch had left both of us full well past a normal dinnertime, happily under the impression that we could simply nibble on something to hold us over for the evening. Then the hunger hit, and then the desperation when we realized no desirable meal was readymade and on hand. We half considered hopping over to In-N-Out for a burger that would leave us hating ourselves and loving life all at the same time, but then I convinced the boy to hold off his hunger for only 30 minutes… long enough to whip up some kind of comforting pasta dish.
Pasta is my go-to meal for when there’s nothing else on hand, much like the aforementioned evening. I started boiling water, grabbed a jar of marinara from the pantry, and started throwing things together. We had onions and garlic – a perfect added flavor boost to any old jar of pasta sauce. A half container of mushrooms was nearing its expiration date in the refrigerator – a delicious added earthy element to our taste buds. And a pound of ground hamburger meat was easily and quickly thawed – the required addition of protein. Oh and there was a block of fresh parm, just waiting to turn whatever the end product was into a masterpiece.
Pardon the tooting of my own horn, but this pasta concoction was delicious. I adore the extra savory base of added onion and garlic, and the mushrooms – oh the mushrooms… Slowly simmered until thin, dark, and juicy, perfectly hiding among the nooks and crannies of the rest of the dish. The hamburger meat, while optional, satisfies my carnivorous tendencies, especially when drizzled with fresh and tender parmesan cheese.
I had some fresh bread lying around, so I sliced it thinly and served it with a bit of olive oil and seasoning on one of my charming cutting board trivets and wooden bowl from my friends over at Ode to Wood. Just do a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and your favorite Italian seasonings (rosemary, oregano, basil, or any pasta seasoning mixture you have on hand). It takes the meal from weeknight sustenance to home-cooked fine dining. Just sayin’.
So there it is, the meal we’ve made 3 times in one month. It’s easy, filled with ingredients you likely already have on hand, and can be on the table in less than 30 minutes. Take a cue from me and pour yourself a glass of wine during that half hour, cue the rerun of 30 Rock on Netflix, and enjoy a quick and fulfilling jaunt in the kitchen.
Oh, and the leftovers? *wipes drool from mouth.
- 17 oz (approximately) favorite short pasta (I used casarecce)
- 26 oz (approximately) favorite marinara sauce
- 16 oz baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup heavy cream (optional)
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 lb ground beef, raw
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Freshly grated parmesan
- For a side of bread and olive oil:
- Favorite Italian bread, sliced
- ¼ cup quality olive oil
- Favorite Italian seasonings, dried (oregano, rosemary, basil, or a dried pasta seasoning mixture)
- Salt and pepper
- Cook the ground beef in a skillet until no pink remains. Set aside.
- Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until translucent and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper, and basil. Stir and let cook until the mushrooms shrink down, about 6 minutes.
- Once the mushroom mixture has cooke through and the mushrooms are substantially smaller and darker, add the cream (optional) and stir. Add the marinara and beef and stir. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add the cooked pasta to the pot and stir. Serve warm with freshly grated parmesan.
- If you're serving it with a side of bread and olive oil, pour the oil into a shallow dish and sprinkle with your desired seasonings. Serve with sliced bread for dipping.