Five Pound Pasta

This is a dish that I've been on the verge of posting since I began to blog, but always hesitated, since it isn't a recipe as much as a set of guidelines for making homemade sauce to eat over pasta. Then a few days ago, I ran across a blog event, "Recipes for First Time Cooks." being hosted by Ramki of One Page Cookbooks. After seeing his refreshing approach to deconstructing and demystifying recipes, I realized that my "five pound" formula for pasta was perfect for this event, and was determined to finally share it.
To make make this dish, you will need:
  • one pound of pasta (macaroni, shells, bowties, rotini, etc.)
  • one pound of protein (ground turkey, ground sausage, can of cannellini beans, etc.)
  • three pounds of vegetables (onions, mushrooms, zucchini, squash, broccoli, bell peppers, etc.)
  • one large can of tomato puree (29 oz)
  • a couple tablespoons of olive oil and seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, basil, parsley, etc.)
Fill a large pot with water, and place it over high heat, so it can begin to heat up while making the sauce, then make pasta according to package directions.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped vegetables and cook until desired degree of doneness. Add seasonings. If in doubt, my standby is 1 or 2 tablespoons of mixed Italian herbs and a sprinkling of garlic powder. (For the sauce in the photograph, I cooked a sweet onion until soft, then added about 2 pounds of yellow squash and a pound of zucchini.)
If you are using ground meat as your protein, add it to the skillet now and cook until all pink is gone. Pour in tomato paste, stir until completely mixed, and heat until sauce just begins to bubble. (My tip for using canned tomato sauce: mix in a little additional garlic powder immediately after pouring tomato puree into pan to remove tinny taste.) If you are using beans as your protein, rinse them, then stir into sauce and cook until heated through.
The sauce and the pasta may not be finished at exactly the same time, but as soon they are both done, mix the pasta into the sauce. (It's not as visually appealing as serving the sauce over the pasta, but it keeps the noodles from drying out or sticking together, and it insures that you won't end up with an uneven amount of sauce or pasta left over.) Adjust seasonings and serve.
This makes an absolutely huge quantity of food. My husband and I will pack leftovers up for work (no white blouses for me on those days!) Sometimes we'll save some for a night when the adults are eating something that's not Kid friendly, and he'll be happy to snarf up some more pasta instead. This pasta dish is easy, infinitely flexible to what's available in my pantry, and reheats beautifully. Many thanks to Ramki for an opportunity to finally share it!


Ramki said...

This is just my kind of recipe. Flexible and tough to screw up ! Thanks for sharing it.

Nicole said...

I love it. Looks delicious and such an easy recipe to remember! I JUST started up a cooking blog so come check it out sometime- www.dairyfreetriedandtrue.blogspot.com