Pasta! Prego!

21 Mar

I’m a fan of creating your own meals from familiar bases. With that in mind, we’ll explore one of my favorite, easy to enhance meals, spaghetti!

Pasta with red sauce is really one of the best quick dinners out there. Pasta is such a fantastic comfort food, and it’s satisfying to make a meal in two pots and less than 30 minutes.

But what do you do if you’re a foodie who just isn’t satisfied with boring noodles and sauce out of a jar?

Improvise!

Let’s start with noodle choices. There are, luckily, many noodly fish in the pasta sea. Most folks are used to processed wheat spaghetti or penne noodles. They’re plain and pretty devoid of any nutritional value. But dig a little deeper at your local grocery store (especially if you shop at Rainbow), and you’ll find a world of options! My favorite is farro pasta. It’s made from (duh) farro, which is one of the oldest cultivated grains, and is nutritionally more complex than processed wheat noodles. It also has a lower gluten content then regular wheat pastas. It cooks a bit slower then “normal” pasta, but is more satisfying and interesting both flavor-wise and texture-wise.

You can also find pastas made from gluten free flour sources, flours enhanced with veggies, and pastas made from whole wheat flours. Most pasta types can be found in whole grain varieties. For instance, I have whole wheat orzo! Remember, whole foods are better foods- so avoid pasta that’s been processed within an inch of its life.

And then there’s the sauce! The pasta sauce shelves at most groceries stores are full of fantastic choices. Pick a sauce you love, and get ready to make it even more epic. I usually add more garlic and onion to my sauce, along with in-season veggies and veggie sausage. Try sautéing some garlic (2-4 cloves) and a half an onion or some leeks in some olive oil, then add your favorite veggie sausage. Cook the sausage and onion until it’s all fragrant and browning, and then pour your jar of sauce on top and mix it all together. If you want to add veggies, either pre-cook them (in the case of broccoli, carrots, potatoes, etc) or add them to the sauce uncooked (in the case of spinach, kale, etc).  Adding veggies to your sauce is a great way to enhance the nutritional value of what would otherwise be a pretty basic dish.

Let your sauce+ simmer for 10 or 15 minutes so all the flavors mix together, then add it to your delicious pasta choice and enjoy your extra awesome, super quick meal.

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