I’ve noticed a pattern that I fall into every fall. At the very start of it, right as there’s the first serious chill in the air, I get in the mood for all the cozy fall foods. For me, those always involve tons of root vegetables and winter squashes, and I enjoy them very, very thoroughly for the next month or two. That must be why I’m generally already sick of roasted root vegetables and almost can’t look at another squash right around the holidays. Meanwhile, there’s still January, February, and March (maybe even some of April?) to endure. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this :)
Thankfully, there are mushrooms. They have all the elements needed for fall/winter cooking: they are earthy, versatile, satisfying, do well with wintery preparations, and pair well with cozy spices and herbs (and they are decidedly unlike root vegetables or squash). So today we are sharing a meal plan, consisting of 3 distinctly different, umami-bomb mains, centered around a batch of sautéed mushrooms: pasta alfredo, minestrone, and gravy with mash. And as usual, there’s a shopping list and step-by-step prep tips. Hope you guys enjoy this one!
- Mushroom Pasta Alfredo
- Chickpea Mushroom Minestrone
- Mushroom Gravy over Potato-Parsnip Mash
*all recipes are vegan and gluten-free if needed, see the recipes for serving sizes
Bring this list with you when you go food shopping, it’s got all the ingredients you’ll need for the recipes in this meal plan mini. All the items are separated by category, to make the shopping easier and more efficient. Take the time to look over this list beforehand and cross out any items you already have. The hope here is that you own some of the pantry staples, spices, and maybe even some of the produce required, which will help minimize the list. Add whatever other ingredients you’ll need for the week here, if doing shopping for the whole week.
2 large yellow onions
2 lbs mushrooms of choice (ex: crimini and shiitake)
1 large head of garlic
2 medium-large Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
2 large parsnips
1 small bunch kale of choice
1 large bunch of parsley
rosemary (2 sprigs)
1 cup chickpeas
1/2 cup cashews
olive oil or other oil of choice
10-12 oz penne pasta (gluten-free if needed)
Complete these three steps on the weekend (or whenever you have the time), and these meals will be a breeze to put together during the week, thanks to all the prepared components.
1) Cook the Mushrooms
Here, we are cooking our mushrooms with onions and garlic (don’t worry, 2 lbs of mushrooms cook down quite a bit) to use as a base for all three of our meals. Half of them will be left whole and the other half will be blended into the creamy Mushroom Alfredo sauce.
- oil of choice
- 2 large yellow onions - chopped
- sea salt
- 2 lbs any mushrooms of choice (we used a mix of crimini and shiitake) - sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic - minced
- Heat a generous glug of oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, and cook for about 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the mushrooms and another pinch of salt. If your large pan is still not large enough to fit all the mushrooms, add them in batches, they will cook down significantly. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, until all the liquid released by the mushrooms evaporates. Store refrigerated in an air-tight container.
2) Cook the Chickpeas and Vegetables for the Mash + Make Veggie Broth all in one go
I love this step so much. Cooking beans (don’t forget to soak them overnight) is such a perfect opportunity to also make delicious, homemade veggie broth, and maybe even to boil a few vegetables for another dish in the process (which only further deepen the broth flavor). Here, we are cooking chickpeas for the Chickpea Mushroom Minestrone, boiling potatoes and parsnips for the Potato-Parsnip Mash and magically making a very flavorful broth in the meantime. The broth will be used in the Mushroom Alfredo Sauce and the Chickpea Mushroom Minestrone.
- 1 cup chickpeas - soaked overnight in purified water with a splash of apple cider vinegar
- 2 medium-large potatoes, Russet or Yukon Gold - peeled and cut into large chunks
- 2 large parsnips - peeled and cut into large chunks
- 2 cloves garlic - smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1 small sheet of kombu seaweed (optional)
- any other vegetable scraps that you might have on hand (leek tops, onion skins, etc.)
- 14 cups purified water
- sea salt
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Place them in a soup pot, along with the potatoes, parsnips, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, kombu and any other vegetable scraps, if using. Cover with 14 cups of water. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook covered, for 30 minutes, or until the chickpeas, potatoes, and parsnips are all cooked. Generously salt the broth towards the end of cooking. Tasting is very important here - the broth should taste very flavorful and well-salted.
- Remove the potatoes and parsnips with a slotted spoon. Store them away in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, until you are ready to make the Potato-Parsnip Mash. Remove the bay leaves, rosemary, kombu, and any vegetable scraps, if using, and discard.
- Measure out 9-9½ cups of the broth and leave it in the pot with the chickpeas. This will be your base for the Chickpea Mushroom Minestrone. Store the rest of the broth in a separate airtight container, you will be using it for the Alfredo and gravy and mash. Keep the broth and chickpeas refrigerated right in the soup pot if possible, since you'll be using it for minestrone later in the week.
3) Make the Mushroom Alfredo Sauce
This is a play on a creamy pasta sauce, complete with the earthy and sweet flavors of sautéed mushrooms and onions. Other flavor superstars like balsamic, miso, and lemon juice take this vegan ‘Alfredo’ to the next level. We’ll be using this sauce in the Pasta, Minestrone, and the Mushroom Gravy.
- half of the sautéed mushrooms and onions (from above, about 2¾ cups)
- ½ cup cashews - soaked in purified water for 2-4 hours, or boiling water for 10 minutes
- 1 tablespoon miso
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- juice from ½ lemon
- salt and pepper - to taste
- about ¾ cup chickpea broth (from above) - to achieve a saucy consistency
- Combine the mushrooms and onions, cashews, miso, balsamic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, in a high-speed blender and pulse until smooth. Stream in the chickpea broth with the blender still running, until you achieve a good sauce consistency. The sauce shouldn't be too thick or too runny, aim for the sweet spot in between. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust if needed. Store the sauce refrigerated in an air-tight container.
This dreamy pasta dish comes together in a flash, thanks to all the weekend prep from above. It’s so cozy and full of deep, wintery flavors from the Mushroom Alfredo and meaty slices of sautéed mushrooms. Lemon juice and fresh parsley provide some necessary brightness, and a dusting of nutritional yeast gives that final, cheesy finish.
- 10-12 oz penne pasta - gluten-free if needed
- ⅔ of the Mushroom Alfredo Sauce (from above, about 2 cups)
- ⅔ of the remaining cooked mushrooms and onions (from above)
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, plus more for sprinkling
- juice from ½ lemon
- ½ large bunch of parsley - chopped
- Cook the pasta al dente, in a large pot of well-salted water, according to the instructions on the package. Reserve ¼ - ½ cup of pasta water before draining.
- Meanwhile, place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the Mushroom Alfredo Sauce, cooked mushrooms and onions, nutritional yeast, and reserved pasta water. Stir to mix and heat through. Once the pasta is done, add it to the pan with the sauce and gently stir to coat. Add the lemon juice and parsley and carefully stir to incorporate.
- Enjoy right away, reserving 2¼ cups of the mushroomy pasta for the minestrone (recipe below). Keep the reserved pasta refrigerated in an air-tight container.
This Minestrone gives a second life to the Mushroom Pasta Alfredo from above. Minestrone is traditionally a soup made of whatever ingredients are around, and a perfect fridge-clean-out dish. We are honoring that here by adding some of our reserved mushroomy pasta to the flavorful chickpea broth and chickpeas that we cooked during prep. The sauce from the pasta gives even more depth to the broth, and the pasta makes the dish perfectly filling and satisfying. There’s also rosemary, kale, lemon juice, and black pepper. All simple ingredients that come together to make a layered and comforting soup, perfect for any winter meal.
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas (from above)
- 9-9½ cups vegetable broth (from above)
- 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
- 1 bunch kale - stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, plus more for serving
- 2¼ cup reserved mushroom pasta (from above)
- freshly ground black pepper
- juice from 1 lemon
- parsley - for serving
- Combine the chickpeas and broth in a soup pot (if not already combined). Optionally, add ½ cup of the chickpeas, ½ cup of the broth, and the rosemary to an upright blender and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture back into the soup and mix it in for a creamier consistency. Bring the broth up to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Add the kale to the simmering broth and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, until soft. Also add the rosemary with the kale if you didn't blend it in earlier. Stir in the nutritional yeast, reserved mushroom pasta, and black pepper to taste, and bring the soup back up to a boil once again. Turn off the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and enjoy, garnished with parsley.
Continuing on our journey of giving a new life to leftovers, we are turning the Mushroom Alfredo into a gravy and serving it over a potato and parsnip mash. The mash is quickly thrown together with the vegetables we boiled while making the chickpeas and broth during prep day. Easy and so satisfying!
- olive oil
- 1 large clove of garlic - minced
- 2 boiled medium-large potatoes, Russet or Yukon Gold (from above)
- 2 boiled large parsnips (from above)
- about ¼ - ½ cup warmed chickpea broth (from above)
- sea salt and black pepper - to taste
- remaining Mushroom Alfredo Sauce (from above, ⅓ of the total)
- remaining cooked mushrooms and onions (from above, ⅓ of the total after sauce)
- about ¼ cup chickpea broth (from above)
- salt and black pepper - if needed, to taste
- parsley - for serving
- Warm a generous glug of olive oil on a medium pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir around for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Mash the potatoes and parsnips in the same pot with a masher. Add the broth and more olive oil to taste, and continue mashing to a desired consistency, incorporating the garlic and oil from the bottom of the pot and warming the mash over medium heat. You can make the mash smooth or a bit chunky, however you prefer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve right away.
- In a small saucepan, combine the Mushroom Alfredo, cooked mushrooms and onions, and just enough of the chickpea broth to achieve a gravy consistency. Warm the gravy over medium heat. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust if needed. Serve the gravy right away, on top of the potato-parsnip mash, garnished with parsley.