Quick and healthy pasta dish for summer evenings

Buttery garlic breadcrumbs turn this humble dish into something memorable

Mushrooms and marjoram with spaghetti and garlic crumbs.

Mushrooms and marjoram with spaghetti and garlic crumbs.

 

Full-on active days, often with picnics eaten on the go, mean that having a substantial dinner is more important than ever. A fact that I relish. With all this fresh air, we are all a little hungrier but don’t feel like big bowls of stew and heavy food in the heat.

There is so much enjoyment to be had outdoors that it’s a waste to be stuck in the kitchen, so I’m rustling up quick and easy healthy food that’s substantial and nourishing. This week’s recipe ticks all of those boxes.

I’m a big fan of mushrooms and go through phases of eating them every few days and ordering them whenever I see them on a menu. Large flat cap mushrooms are amazing cooked on a barbecue. They become smokey and meaty and taste incredible in a toasted brioche bun with caramelised onion and blue cheese.

Sometimes a dish just needs a little something extra for texture or a pop of flavour. I usually use something like dukkah, toasted seeds or gremolata. For this recipe, instead of serving the pasta dish with a side of garlic bread, I’ve made some buttery garlic breadcrumbs for sprinkling on top. They really do make this humble pasta dish into something memorable.

Anyone who has ever dabbled in growing their own vegetables will have undoubtedly cultivated courgettes. Like radishes, they are easy to grow and results are seen in a matter of weeks. But it’s not always easy to think of ways to cook all of those courgettes.

Raw they make a great hummus, and ratatouille is a delicious option too. I sometimes make large batches with the last of the summer tomatoes and freeze it for winter months when I’d appreciate it more. Once defrosted, the portions of sunshine are delicious stirred through pasta or to top a baked potato to serve alongside roast chicken.

If you don’t have access to marjoram, then just double the amount of parsley or use a tablespoon of finely chopped thyme, which is wonderful with mushrooms, or tarragon. If this is a little too wholesome for your liking, stir through a few tablespoons of creme fraiche. 

MUSHROOMS AND MARJORAM WITH SPAGHETTI AND GARLIC CRUMBS 

 Serves 2
Ingredients
200g wholemeal spaghetti
4tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic 
60g breadcrumbs
1 medium sized courgette, halved and sliced
350g button mushrooms
3tbsp marjoram, roughly chopped
2tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
Black pepper
Sea salt 

Method
1
Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water until just al dente. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2 Melt two tablespoons of butter in a heavy-based frying pan. Add the crushed cloves of garlic and stir until just warmed through. Add the breadcrumbs and stir well. Cook over a medium heat, stirring all the time until the crumbs are crisp and golden. Set aside.

3 Wipe out the frying pan, then melt one tablespoon of butter. Fry the courgette until it is beginning to brown and blister in patches. Set aside.

4 Melt another tablespoon of butter in the pan and cook the mushrooms until they are just beginning to turn golden at the edges. Return the courgette to the pan. Season well with salt and black pepper. Add the chopped herbs and stir well to combine.

5 Drain the spaghetti, stir through the mushroom and courgette mixture and sprinkle with the garlic breadcrumbs. Serve right away. 

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