I was thinking about my friend Susan tonight when I made this. She recently told me that she would love a cookbook with easy one-dish meals and lots of vegetarian options. Like us, she is not a vegetarian but would like to eat less meat, and I think there is a growing number of like-minded people out there. As Susan said “Flexitarian is the new black.” See why I like the girl?

This is a favorite from my rotation and comes from Cook’s Illustrated’s The Best 30-Minute Recipe. It is vegetarian, honestly takes 30 minutes to make, and the most exotic ingredient in it is dried porcini mushrooms, and you can leave those out if you can’t find them or can’t be bothered.  Tonight I found that I did not have porcinis but did have dried oyster mushrooms and they worked just as well.  You could also use whole-wheat pasta.

Creamy Skillet Penne with Mushrooms and Asparagus
Adapted from The Best 30-Minute Recipe
Serves 4
Printable version

1 tablespoon olive oil
10 oz. sliced white mushrooms
Salt and ground black pepper
1 shallot, minced
1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms, soaked briefly in warm water and minced (you can reserve the water to use below)
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine (use reserved mushroom water for added flavor)
3-1/2 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. penne (2-1/2 cups)
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed and cut into 1″ lengths
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a 12″ nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add white mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until mushrooms are browned, about 8 minutes.

Stir in shallot, porcini and thyme and cook until shallot has softened, about 1 minute. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine and simmer until almost dry, about 1 minute.

Stir in water, cream, and penne. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring often, until penne is almost tender and liquid has thickened, 12-15 minutes. Add asparagus and cook until tender, about 3 minutes more.

Off heat, stir in Parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.