I know I’m not the only one that doesn’t always feel like doing a big elaborate dinner night after night. We don’t have too much ready-to-eat food in our house, but one thing I always make sure I have a few boxes of pasta in our pantry.
Earlier this week, Casey and I were both working late one night when I looked up and realized it was 8:30 and we hadn’t eaten. I didn’t really feel like jumping into a big kitchen project, but plain pasta and marinara didn’t really sound too exciting either.
Here’s a simple and easy way to spruce up a quick pasta dish!
1. Pick a pasta that’s a fun shape or a different flavor. Don’t get me wrong – I love traditional spaghetti, but there are so many other great flavors and styles of pasta – don’t be afraid to try something different.
A tip for the the moms: Once the pasta has cooked, grab and handful and throw into a baggie to save for baby’s lunch/dinner the next day. Cullen thought the long noodles were HILARIOUS!
2. Add some greens or veggies. In a separate sauté pan, I cooked a bunch of beautiful swiss chard in 1/2 cup of pasta water. Once the pasta was cooked and drained, I added it to the dish with swiss chard and stirred to combine. I chose greens but you could add whatever you prefer – broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms – whatever feels easy.
3. Mix up the sauce. There is nothing more rustic and homey than a big spoonful of marinara, but on a hot summer day it just didn’t sound right. One of my favorite ways to eat pasta is with a light olive oil sauce. I added about 1.5 tablespoons to the pan with swiss chard and fettuccine, and gave it a good stir. I also added some brightness with about 1 tablespoon ume plum vinegar – acidic and salty! Play around with vinegars, lemon juice, white wine – all of these things will add some punch.
4. Add your garnish. For this dish, I decided to add some roasted sunflower seeds. They added a great textural crunch and good roasted flavor. Other good options? Pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, olives, cheese crumbles, capers, mmmmmmm.
5. Season and serve. Finish with any additional salt, pepper, and spices needed. Give one final stir and portion in to your favorite pasta bowl. It all comes together in about 15 minutes, and while it’s by no means complicated, it feels a lot more exciting than something with a jar of sauce dumped on top.
When we were little, my mom used to always tell us we had to have something green on our plates, and it has stuck with me into my thirties. Some quick-cooking greens or veggies can bulk up a pasta dish and add some color and variety to your meal. Next time you’re in a pinch for dinner, think beyond spaghetti and don’t overlook the produce drawer.
I’m eagerly awaiting our CSA delivery this afternoon so I can restock on greens and veggies myself. I’ll take some pictures and show you what we’re cooking with this week.
And because so many of you asked for it… FRIDAY DANCE!!
Hope you have a great weekend!