Tuesday, May 15, 2012


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This was just one of those days when a quick, easy dinner was what I needed (think field trip to downtown Seattle with 6th graders).  Rather than turn to boxed or frozen meals packed with preservatives and sodium, I make something fresher with ingredients I always have on hand.  There are a few different variations of this meal, it just depends on what's in the fridge (and someday there will be a Bowl-O-Pasta II post showing pasta with more of a sauce).

While I normally like to do this with homemade pasta - tonight was all about quick, and stuff I already have available.  Here is the start:

Boil whole wheat pasta to al dente in salted water (enough for 2 dinner sized portions)
While boiling:
  • warm about 1/8 - 1/4 cup light olive oil with approx 1/8tsp - 1/2tsp crushed red pepper and 3 cloves chopped fresh garlic.  When it's warm and you can smell the fragrance of garlic, turn off heat and let sit;
  • chop olives and red pepper (I use Mezzetta Napa Valley Bistro), put into large mixing bowl;
  • grate 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, set aside;
  • Gently toast 1/4 cup pine nuts
When the pasta is done cooking, strain from water and place directly in mixing bowl.  Pour oil/garlic mix, 1/2tsp - 1tsp Italian seasoning, and parmesan over the top (doing this now will allow the parmesan to melt and cling to the pasta).  Mix with tongs.  Divide into 2 serving bowls and lightly top with extra virgin olive oil, grated parmesan and toasted pine nuts.

  • Add fresh chopped basil or basil pesto (fresh or jarred), omit Italian seasoning from above;
  • Add crumbled goat cheese (may need to use a bit of pasta water so it doesn't get sticky and allows the goat cheese to become slightly creamy as it melts);
  • Top with sliced pepperocini from the Mezzetta jar.

Notes: To toast pine nuts, place in skillet over low heat and stir every few minutes so they don't burn.

Oh, and I did enjoy the field trip - a lot - but I was tired and not in the mood to make a big or complicated meal.  :)

Feel free to share your ideas for variations... and if you try this, come back and let me know how you liked it!

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