While we very much enjoyed our vacation, two out of the three of us came back missing vegetables. Last night was the first night that we were able to sit down to a meal at home in over a week. It was lovely! There was a simple salad and warm bread; and whole wheat pasta with mushrooms, spinach, goat cheese, and lemon zest – topped with breadcrumbs.
Have you ever topped your pasta with breadcrumbs, lightly toasted and crunchy? Once you do, you may not go back to parmesan. Even my son, a parmesan addict who has been known to sprinkle it on everything from noodles to chicken to even grapes (when we weren’t looking), loved the dusting of breadcrumbs on this dish.
A simple pasta is the ultimate weeknight meal. You really don’t need a recipe, you can throw in any number of fresh and simple ingredients, and it cooks up in minutes.
The great thing about this pasta is how easy it is to prep. While diced onions are browning in butter, mince some garlic and slice some mushrooms (or buy them sliced, like I typically do!). Add the mushrooms and garlic to the pan, rinse some spinach, and zest a lemon.
Sidenote: Do you know what I do not like? Shriveled up mushrooms. Do you know what I do like? Mushrooms that are nicely browned and yet still maintain their shape. In order to achieve mushroom nirvana, you must not add salt to the mushrooms until they’re completely cooked! Otherwise they loose all their juices too quickly and wither up into something not very pretty to look at.
While spinach wilts in the pan with the mushrooms and onion, crumble goat cheese and toast some breadcrumbs. Make sure that you toast the breadcrumbs long enough for them to take on some color and begin to brown nicely (but obviously not turn black and burn!). You aren’t simply warming the breadcrumbs, you’re adding flavor to them.
When the spinach has cooked down, toss with the cheese and cooked noodles and top with the breadcrumbs.
Whole Wheat Pasta with Spinach, Mushrooms and Goat Cheese
- 12 oz whole wheat pasta
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 small onion, diced
- 6-8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 bag baby spinach
- 3 oz goat cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Fill a large pot with water and set on high heat. When water begins to boil, add salt (about 3/4 of a tablespoon) and noodles. Cook until al dente, reserve a cup of the pasta water, and strain.
In a large sauté pan set over medium heat melt the butter and add the onion. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to turn a light, golden brown.
Add mushrooms and garlic to the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid released from the mushrooms has cooked off (about 5 minutes).
Meanwhile, set a small sauté pan over medium-low heat and thinly coat the bottom with olive oil. Add breadcrumbs and cook until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally.
Add half of the lemon juice to the mushrooms and scrape the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan.
Add half of the spinach and half of the lemon zest to the mushrooms, and cook until spinach is wilted. Add remaining spinach, lemon zest, and lemon juice. When spinach is cooked down, toss with goat cheese and noodles. If pasta is too dry for your liking, slowly add pasta water (anywhere from a couple of tablespoons to maybe 1/3 of a cup) and stir to combine.
Plate the pasta and top with breadcrumbs.
If you happen to have any pasta leftover, I recommend adding a couple of tablespoons of reserved pasta water prior to stashing it in the fridge.