Monday, May 10, 2010

week night pasta for one

Cooking for one can be tricky. On nights when J is working late and I'm left to dine solo for the evening, I generally turn to something quick, easy, and inexpensive... which, normally leaves very little option for healthy or imaginitive (mac & cheese, anyone?) Last week, I found myself in this position but -with some leftovers, 2 store-bought ingredients, and a little creativity- I had a simple, tasty vegetarian dinner for one that didn't come out of a box. And it was still done in 20 minutes. Amazing, right? I thought so, too.

We tried chicken Milanese with arugula salad earlier last week with great results but, had some leftover greens and red onion... which made me think of this Real Simple dish I had stuffed in my recipe files ages ago. I also had that too-much-for-one-but-not-enough-for-two portion of gemelli leftover from a pasta salad of weeks passed; some handy chicken broth to sub for the wine and -$5 at Super Wal*Mart later- a small soft wedge of Brie and a carton of earthy creminis. It was meant to be.

I'm somewhat ashamed to admit it but, this was the first time I had *ever* cooked mushrooms or tried Brie cheese, and only the second time preparing arugula! I was rewarded for stepping out of my food comfort zone, though. The savory sauteed creminis and onions, peppery arugula and tangy Brie tossed with perfectly al dente gemelli was a delicious alternative to my stand-by boxed Annie's (I still love you though, Bernie!)

Gemelli with Brie, Arugula & Mushrooms

{adapted from Real Simple}

Serves: 1


  • 1 heaping cup of dry gemelli, or other shaped pasta (penne, rotini, farfalle, ziti, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 button or cremini, or 1 portobello mushroom, stems removed and caps cut into bite-sized wedges
  • 1/4 of a small red onion, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth (or dry white wine)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 ounce of Brie, cut into small pieces
  • handful of fresh arugula, torn into bite-sized pieces
1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. *Remember* to reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and red onion, and cook 2-3 minutes tossing occassionally, until the mushrooms begin to release their juices. Add the broth (or wine), season with salt and pepper, and cook until the mushrooms begin to brown and the liquid reduces, about 5-6 minutes.

3. Mix the Brie pieces with the warm pasta so that they start to melt. Pour the reserved cooking liquid over the Brie to facilitate melting, and toss together until the cheese is completely melted and the pasta is coated (if your Brie is being stubborn, place the pot over a still-warm or low heat burner, mixing constantly, until it is fully melted). Stir in the sauteed mushroom-onion mixture. Add the fresh arugula, toss and serve.

Cooking for the fam? Check out the original recipe (serves 4).

Just a little FYI for you first-time fungus cooks like myself: button, cremini and portobello mushrooms are all the exact SAME species of mushroom, they're just picked at different points in their development. All are lovely and suited for this dish, though the smaller varieties (button and cremini) are the easiest to chop into perfectly bite-sized slices.

Do you have a favorite just-for-one recipe in your arsenal?

Share it with me in the comments! x 


  1. Yummy pasta recipe. I love the green added to this pasta dish (parsley). This evening I'll try some green with Genelle Lamont's
    Genelle Lamont's Broccoli Rabe Pasta With Italian Sausage Dish

  2. that sounds fantastic, thanks for sharing Ju!