We're celebrating Meatless Mondays with balanced, delicious meal plans. We hope you'll join us -- whether you're vegetarian all the time or just here and there.
Today: Have your cake, and dinner, too.
Cake, cake, glorious cake! Rich, wonderful, and, in the best cases, chocolatey. Still, all too often, cake is a time-consuming production. Get carried away baking a cake on a Monday evening and, amidst all the layers and the icing, you just might find yourself eating cake for dinner at 11 p.m.
Tonight, we have a cake recipe that takes 35 minutes, start to finish. While the cake is in the oven, you can pull together -- and polish off -- a satisfying pasta dish that requires little effort and yields big rewards. So yes, there is a way to eat cake on a weeknight and have a nutritious dinner, too. You heard it here first.
Serves 4 to 6, with cake for tomorrow
4 cups (8 ounces) cremini or button mushrooms
1 lemon, zested and juiced
4 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped
1 pound pasta
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 to 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
We’re assuming that you have flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, a neutral oil, vanilla, cider or white vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in your pantry. If not, add those to the list, too.
1. Heat the oven to 350° F and grease a 9-inch round cake pan.
2. Sift together your dry ingredients: 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients: 5 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, 1 cup cold water, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and 1 tablespoon vinegar.
3. Whisk the wet and dry mixtures together until smooth and lump-free. Pour into the prepared pan and tap against the counter to pop air bubbles. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
4. While the cake bakes, make the pasta: First, finely slice the mushrooms and put them in a large bowl with 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 minced garlic clove, the lemon zest and juice, and the thyme leaves.
5. Cook the pasta and drain loosely, leaving some water. Quickly add the pasta to the bowl with the mushrooms, then toss everything together well. Add the parsley, cheese, and freshly ground pepper and toss once more.
6. Take the cake out of the oven to cool while you enjoy the pasta. Remove the cake from the pan, dust with confectioner’s sugar, and have your dessert.
Photos by James Ransom