No matter what or how you celebrate, I think we can all agree that this is an exceptionally busy time of the year. During the entire month of December, I want to make cooking as easy for myself as possible. Yes, I will admit, Marie Calender is going to pay a visit one night, perhaps two, this week. And, I may end up carrying out from my favorite Chinese restaurant, but largely I intend to cook. During busy times, the crockpot gets put to good use, and pasta makes many an appearance.
There is a lot to like about pasta. It's often a one-pot meal, it can be paired with both meat and meatless ingredients, and it goes together in a flash. Tonight's dinner is going to be meatless, but will get protein from the inclusion of a healthy amount of walnuts. This is a great recipe to have at hand because it can double as both a main or side dish. I spotted it on the 12 Tomatoes blog and have made it numerous times since. Use what you have on hand. For example, I have swapped out the spinach for both leeks and kale, I have made it heartier by browning ground Italian sausage or slices of kielbasa to add to the dish, and have used everything from walnuts to pecans to even peanuts in the preparation.
3 cups crimini mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
3 cups fresh spinach
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium heat and sauté mushrooms, seasoned with salt and covered, for 15-20 minutes, or until softened.
Stir occasionally and reduce heat if mushrooms start to burn.
Add spinach to mushrooms and pour in lemon juice. Cook until wilted, then add walnuts.
Cook pasta according to packaging directions, or until al dente. Drain (reserving 1/2 cup pasta water) and set aside.
Add heavy cream to the spinach and mushrooms, stirring well, and mix in Parmesan cheese. If sauce is too thick, add pasta water one tablespoon at a time.
Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
Pour drained pasta into the sauce and toss well to coat thoroughly. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes, or until sauce thickens and sticks to pasta.
Transfer to serving plates, garnish with more Parmesan and serve hot.
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