Tag Archives: spaghetti

Tomato Feta Spaghetti

Sometimes you have days where you don’t want to cook.  But you still want real food.  For those days, I have dishes like this.  This is a ten minute dinner, folks.  It only takes a couple of minutes longer than making a PBJ and you will not regret the tiny bit of effort.  Simple, healthy ingredients come together in minutes and burst with flavor.

I usually make this (or something like it) when I have produce that needs to be used and I’m not feeling terribly creative about it.  If your grape tomatoes are starting to wrinkle, don’t worry!  A little toss in the pan will plump them right up again.  In summertime, I sometimes don’t even cook the tomatoes and spinach for this, but just toss them with the hot pasta.  In winter, when I want it a little more saucy, I cook them just for a minute or two, so they are warm but still bright and juicy.

Tomato Feta Spaghetti

Tomato Feta Spaghetti

Tomato Feta Spaghetti

1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups spinach, chopped
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup feta cheese
Salt & pepper
1 package thin spaghetti (or any noodle you like)

Do your chopping and slicing first so everything is ready, as this dish comes together very quickly!

Spinach and Tomatoes ready to roll!

Spinach and Tomatoes ready to roll!

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta until tender but not mushy.  While pasta cooks, drizzle a bit of olive oil in a skillet and saute onion.  When onion is tender add garlic and cook one minute.  Add spinach, tomatoes, and a pinch of salt & pepper.  Saute 1-2 minutes, and then turn heat off.

Sauteed veggies.  Note that I have not cooked these things to a pulp.  For a fresh burst of flavor, they just need a little heat for a minute or two.

Veggies in the pan for a quick sauté.  Note that I have not cooked these things to a pulp. For a fresh burst of flavor, they just need a little heat for a minute or two.

Drain pasta and toss with veggies and feta.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Serve by itself or with a protein or salad.

This worked well as a side dish for Asian-Inspired Pork Loin (or is the pork the side dish?), but it's also great just by itself.

This worked well as a side dish for Asian-Inspired Pork Loin (or is the pork the side dish?), but it’s also great just by itself.

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Amazing Spaghetti Sauce

Summer has officially come to an end, but tomatoes are still coming off the vines and making their way into my kitchen.  Thanks to gifts from my mom and my aunt, I had a huge pile of tomatoes that needed to be used right away.  I decided to take a cue from my friend Valerie and cook these babies down into spaghetti sauce.

I have no idea what kind of tomatoes these were; there were several different varieties.  I started with a huge bowl, I would guess at least three or four pounds of tomatoes total and was hoping to end up with enough sauce for a couple of dinners. Alas…it only made enough for one amazing batch because it was so good we all had to have another helping!  Turns out tomatoes reduce in volume quite a bit when you cook them for an hour or two.

Seriously some of the best spaghetti I have ever made.

Amazing Spaghetti Sauce

3-4 pounds garden tomatoes, mixed variety
1 onion, chopped
8-10 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 pound hot Italian sausage
Salt & pepper
1 pound spaghetti

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Score the bottom of each tomato with a knife.  Put the tomatoes in the pot of water (you may have to do this in two or three batches).  Cook for 1 minute until skin starts to peel.  Remove tomatoes and rinse with cool water, or submerge in a bowl of cool water.  When cool enough to handle, remove skin and stems.  Cut into large chunks and put in a large pot (I used the same one I used for blanching the tomatoes).

Tomatoes all ready to fulfill their destiny.

Add onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, olive oil and water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium or medium low.  Simmer uncovered for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have reduced down and sauce has thickened to the consistency you like.  In a separate skillet, cook Italian sausage.  Add to sauce.  Let it cook and mingle with the tomatoes for 15-20 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and add salt & pepper as needed.  I added about two teaspoons of salt and a teaspoon of pepper to mine.  Do not add salt until after you add the sausage and taste the sauce, since most sausage has some salt in it already.

Amazing Spaghetti Sauce. Ready to mingle with some pasta.  You can see on the sides of the pan how much the sauce has cooked down.  Yummy concentrated flavor.

Cook pasta until tender.  Drain and smother with sauce.  Prepare yourself for many yummy noises.

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Pesto Spaghetti

If you’ve eaten dinner at my house a few times, chances are good you’ve been fed Pesto Spaghetti.  It’s one of my favorite recipes and I’ve been making it for years and years.  A friend taught me her version of this during my college days, back before I knew what pesto was, and it’s evolved ever since.  I love making it for company because it’s quick to throw together and requires very little time in the kitchen so I actually get to visit with my guests instead of cooking the whole time.  It’s also mindless enough that I can visit while I’m cooking and not risk screwing it up.

This is one of the most versatile pasta dishes I make.  You can use any kind of pesto, fresh or packaged, you can use any fresh veggies, or substitute frozen veggies if that’s more convenient.  You can make it with meat or no meat.  You can use any kind of noodle.  And it is wonderful left over the next day.  I’ve even used the leftovers as a base for a frittata the next morning.

A big bunch of fresh asparagus and some baby sweet peppers worked beautifully in this.  I still had Hazelnut Pesto left from a recipe I made last week so I used that as well and it was absolutely lovely.

Pesto Spaghetti

Pesto Spaghetti

Olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or sliced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional – leave out if you don’t like the extra heat)
1 bunch of fresh asparagus, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 cup chopped red or orange bell peppers
1/2 cup or more of basil pesto
1 can (15 oz.) of diced tomatoes with juice
1 package of thin spaghetti (or any other pasta)
Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup to mix in and more for sprinkling on top)
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for about a minute.  Add chopped veggies.  Stir and cook for about a minute.  Add pesto and tomatoes and stir to combine.  Turn down heat a bit and cook until pasta is done, stirring occasionally.  Drain pasta and add to pan.  Add 1/2 cup parmesan and a pinch of salt & pepper.  Toss to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve with additional parmesan to sprinkle on top.

Close up of Noodle-icious Pesto Spaghetti


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Project Veggie: Day 21 – Angel Hair with Green & Black Olives

Martha Stewart irritates me.  Maybe I’m a small, petty person for saying so, but she does.  Everything is so fussy, and anal, and perfect.  Ugh.  I want to go over there and spill stuff on her counter, rumple her bed, put a few stacks of laundry in the corner of her living room, plant a dust bunny under her armchair!  My house has never looked like anything in her magazine or TV show, and if it did it would probably drive me insane.  I need a little clutter.  I need some randomness.  I don’t want to spend hours preparing a meal or cleaning my house, managing every tiny detail.  But to give her a tiny bit of credit, she sometimes has some good ideas.

I was watching a show once and Martha had a segment on there where she made a super quick spaghetti recipe using just a few ingredients.  I don’t remember the recipe; I didn’t write it down.  But it planted a seed that got me experimenting on my own.  Before that, whenever I made homemade spaghetti sauce it was a long process, chop, chop, simmer, simmer, stir, stir, wait, wait!  But then Martha inspired me to try quicker, fresher, and simpler.  And I never went back.  And for that one thing, I don’t totally hate her.  So thank you, Martha. Although…I hope next time you make spaghetti, you splatter some sauce on your shirt. 🙂

I make many different versions of this pasta, but they all start with a few simple ingredients: a big can of tomatoes, fresh basil, lots of garlic.  Beyond that, I add things depending on my mood, and what’s available in my kitchen.  This is one of our favorite incarnations of this particular dish.

Angel Hair Pasta with Black & Green Olives

Angel Hair with Green & Black Olives

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil.
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes
1/2 – 1 tsp. crushed red peppers
1/2 cup sliced green olives
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup fresh basil, rolled and sliced into strips
freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Put a pot of water on to boil and while it heats, prepare the sauce.  Puree the can of tomatoes in a blender or food processor.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic.  Cook for a minute or so until fragrant.  Add the tomatoes.  Add olives and crushed red peppers.  Stir to combine.  Once you have the sauce started you can add the pasta to the boiling water.  Angel hair pasta only takes about 5 minutes to cook, so watch it closely and don’t overcook.  Add fresh basil to the sauce, taste it and see if it needs salt and pepper.  The olives are pretty salty, so usually it doesn’t need much.  Drain the pasta and add to the sauce.  Toss.  Serve hot, topped with parmesan cheese.

Incidentally, this is also great leftover for breakfast or lunch the next day, hot or cold.

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