As Valentine’s coincides with Ash Wednesday, some may like to go for a meat-free dinner option, opting for a vegetable-based dish.

During the summer and autumn months, we have an abundance of vegetables in season, but even at this time of year, when the rain is hitting the windows and the sun is reluctant to make any sort of an appearance, there is still an impressive amount of locally grown vegetables available to buy in supermarkets and farmers’ markets.

Some of the vegetables which are currently in season include celeriac, parsnip, carrot, beetroot, onion, leek, Brussels sprouts, kale and cabbage.

Due to mushrooms thriving in darkened conditions, Irish mushrooms are available to us all year round.

Mushrooms also offer a certain meatiness to a meal, making them a satisfying addition to any pasta dish or pie.

When we’re striving for a balanced diet, increasing our intake of fruit and vegetables is a standard recommendation. They are a rich source of fibre, which helps to keep our gut in check and are a valuable source of vitamins and minerals.

There are many ways we can sneak in a few extra portions to our daily diet.

Creamy Mushroom Pasta

This pasta dish can be prepared and on the table within half an hour. It includes some seasonal vegetables, and a good dash of cream adds a little indulgence to this midweek supper.


150g spaghetti

1 tbsp olive oil

½ leek, cut in half and finely sliced

½ tsp chilli flakes

300g mushrooms, sliced

Knob of butter

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

100ml cream

50g Parmesan, grated,

plus extra for serving

1tbsp fresh lemon juice

75g spinach or young kale leaves,

roughly chopped


1 Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions.

2 While the pasta is cooking, add the olive oil to a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the leeks, stir to combine, and cook for about 5 minutes.

3 Add the chilli flakes and cook for about 30 seconds before adding the mushrooms and a knob of butter. Season well with black pepper.

4 Cook for about five minutes, stirring continuously until the leeks and mushrooms appear cooked.

5 Once the pasta is cooked, reserve a small cup of the cooking water before draining, covering, and leaving to one side.

6 In a small bowl, combine about 4 tbsp of the reserved pasta water with the cream, grated Parmesan, lemon juice and a little sprinkling of salt.

7 Add the spinach and the cooked pasta to the pan. Pour over the cream mixture and stir well to combine.

8 Take from the heat and serve straight away with a few grinds of black pepper and an extra grating of Parmesan.

Mushroom Pâté

Mushroom Pâté

This mushroom pâté can be made a couple of days in advance and makes for a convenient and delicious Valentine’s Day starter. It’s best served with slices of lightly toasted crusty bread and crunchy vegetables cut into slices.


1tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, diced

25g butter

250g mushrooms, sliced

Freshly ground pepper

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 sprig of thyme, leaves only

200g cream cheese

To serve – finely chopped chives


1 Add the olive oil to a small saucepan over a low heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring regularly, for about ten minutes, until the onion is nice and soft but not coloured. Take from the heat and leave to one side.

2 Add the butter to a large pan, over a medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms, season with a few grinds of black pepper. Turn up the heat and fry, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes. Once the mushrooms are cooked, stir in the garlic and thyme, and continue to cook for about 1 minute, stirring continuously. Take from the heat and

leave to cool.

3 Once the onions and mushrooms are completely cooled, add them to a high-powered processor along with the cream cheese and blitz until smooth. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving, and up to three days.

4 Serve with a sprinkle of finely chopped chives, some crusty bread, and thin slices of vegetables.

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