Niall McKenna: Quick and tasty meals to make things easy during the week

Mushroom pasta
Mushroom pasta Mushroom pasta

WITH work, school and many extra-curriculars resuming, quick meals are the way forward to help us get back into the swing of juggling the post-summer bustle. Despite the busyness of life which September brings, it is important to still eat well, which is why I feel it is crucial to have a few wholesome dishes that you are confident in rustling up quickly and easily.

This week’s dishes are a mushroom pasta and aglio e olio – two midweek favourites in our house. Plus, it’s always a bonus when there’s leftovers for lunch the next day.

Interested in unlocking your cooking potential? Why not check out our cookery classes at: or follow us on Instagram


(Serves 4)

Rapeseed oil to cook

1 leek, finely sliced

400g button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

½ bunch tarragon, picked from stalks

100ml vegetable stock

150ml white wine

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

200ml double cream

1 lemon juiced and zested

100g cooked pasta, rigatoni recommended

50g parmesan


To begin, heat the oil in a large pan, adding in the sliced leek and mushrooms. Cook on a medium heat until the leek and mushrooms have softened. Next, add the garlic and tarragon to the pan and cook for a further four minutes while continuously stirring.

Then add the vegetable stock and white wine, increasing the heat until the liquid is boiling. Once boiling, keep at a simmer to reduce the liquid by half and once reduced, add in the double cream and Dijon mustard, stirring until all the ingredients are combined.

Next, stir in the lemon juice, zest and stir well.

Finally, add in the cooked pasta and mix well until all the pasta is covered in the sauce. Garnish with parmesan and a sprinkle of chopped tarragon, ready to serve.

Aglio E Olio
Aglio E Olio Aglio E Olio


(Serves 4)

1 garlic bulb, halved

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

Olive oil


Ground black pepper

1 tin anchovies

150g unsalted butter, room temperature

450g spaghetti

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

Parmesan, grated

1 bunch parsley, destalked and chopped

Red chilli flakes- optional


Begin by coating the halved garlic bulb in olive oil and wrapping in tin foil. Place it in the oven and cook for 30 minutes at 180°C. Once 30 minutes have passed, the garlic should be browned and soft. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Then peel the skin from the garlic pulp and place into a bowl.

In the bowl, add the butter and four anchovies, and with a fork, mash together to combine, leaving it with a bit of texture (it is important not to blend completely). Leave this to the side.

Place a pot of salted water on the hob, bringing it to the boil. Add in the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Once cooked, strain the water from the pasta and pop the pasta back into the pot, retaining around four tablespoons of cooking water.

In a second pot, place the chopped garlic, anchovies, oil, red chilli and season with salt and pepper onto a gentle heat and combine. Add this mixture to the cooked pasta and stir well. Then add the butter mixture, turning up the heat and cooking for two minutes until the pasta becomes glossy.

Place into a serving dish and top with grated parmesan, parsley, chilli flakes (optional) and a drizzle of olive oil.

This dish is best served with fresh, crusty bread.