Winter is here, come inside and try my newest healthy comfort food dish inspired by one of my childhood favourites. Creamy Mustard, Mushroom, and Broccoli Pasta is a hearty but healthy dish perfect for the cooler days ahead.
When I was in primary school I had three favourite dinners: steak with mashed potato; roast beef with gravy; and chicken in mustard sauce. The last of these generally involved a large amount of chicken breast diced and seared with a large dollop of mustard then more cream than is legal poured on top and bubbled and reduced to thick creamy goodness. Gah. Now this girl is in deep with her vegetarian life (and has loved it from day one) but sometimes a girl craves a good creamy pasta dish. This girl also craves the feeling that she hasn’t completely blown her daily run with merely a bite of her dinner, so into the kitchen this girl goes. I should really stop talking about myself in third person. It’s getting weird.
I feel like winter can be a big creamy, baked, cheesy, trap when you are trying to eat more healthfully. On dark-skied days when the rain clouds hang low, and your nose is at a constant drip during a chilly run you don’t feel like coming home to a big crunchy salad. At least, this girl doesn’t (there I go again). At least, I don’t (better). I feel like coming home to a big bowl of something hearty and warming. A meal that will stick to my ribs (I have always hated that visual), fill up my chilly tummy, and send me drifting off into dreamland. But, I also want to wake up the next morning feeling good about how I nourished my body the day before, and leave some room for a square or two of after-dinner dark chocolate. The secret: you can have both. You can have a hearty, creamy dish and nourish your body with healthy whole foods.
The secret to this creamy dish: almond milk. Just the barest touch. We go deep into the comfort flavour pool with mustard, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and onion to satisfy every corner of your tastebuds and merely finish the dish with a splash of almond milk. You could use dairy or soy if that is what you have at hand. Mushrooms make this meal substantial and bring their own earthy sweetness. Mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, mustard and creamy almond milk are a match made in heaven. Add some al dente gluten free pasta shells, broccoli blanched in the pasta water, and baby rocket wilted at the final moment and your bowl is filled to the brim with feel good comfort food.
I enjoyed this with a side of Orange is the New Black and my favourite blanket draped over my knees. I am old. I am cold. But, I am no longer hungry.
Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Vegan option: leave out Parmesan cheese or replace with your favourite cheese-substitute | Serves 3
Note: If you are the calorie counting type you might be interested to know that a third of this recipe (a decent serve) comes in under 400 calories.
- 180 grams (6 ounces) dry small shape gluten free pasta (I used shells)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small brown onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- 1/2 cup almond milk (or dairy/soy as per preference)
- 1/2 tablespoon gluten free cornflour
- 2 large handfuls baby rocket leaves
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 small head broccoli, cut into florets
- Parmesan cheese, to serve (if desired)
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to the boil. Add pasta and cook as per packet instructions.
- While you are waiting for the water to boil peel and finely dice onion, and peel and crush garlic.
- When you have added the pasta to cook. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent.
- Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are softened.
- Add balsamic vinegar and mustard and cook until vinegar is reducing.
- Whisk together almond milk and cornflour until smooth.
- Turn heat to low and add almond milk, baby rocket, and a decent pinch of salt and black pepper.
- Cook over low heat until almond milk is reduced and sauce is thick.
- In the last two minutes of pasta cooking add broccoli florets to the water to blanch. Drain pasta and broccoli well and add to the reduced sauce. Stir gently until everything is well coated.
- Serve with Parmesan cheese if desired.