Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Easy Weeknight Dinners Series presents: Veggie Pasta Presto!

This has been one of those crazy weeks where there haven't been nearly enough hours in the day to accomplish even half of my to-do list. I am lucky if my husband and I eat one balanced meal-a-day (I wonder...do cheerios even count as a balanced meal?) and takeout menus are scattered across the dining room table instead of dinner plates plates heaped with nutritious and lovingly cooked meals.

This is a sure sign that I need an intervention...

As I was pondering with great distaste my lack of both time and tasty vegetable concoctions it occurred to me that many people were also probably suffering from similar time constraints. After all, I can't possibly be the only person with a long commute, large to-do-list etc... Thus I was inspired to start this little series:

Easy Weeknight Dinners

Nothing you'll find within this series could ever pass for gourmet. But it is all quick, simple and nutritious. Best of all, the recipes shouldn't require any special trips to the health food store for weird ingredients.

Without any further ado... here is the first installment.

Veggie Pasta Presto!
Number of tools: 6 (2 pots, cutting board, knife, spoon, strainer)
Time: Approximately 35 minutes
1 lb penne pasta
1 lb frozen broccoli
olive oil or white wine for sauteing
additional olive oil/ vegan butter for pasta (optional)
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
generous sprinkle basil
generous sprinkle marjoram
1 can plum tomatoes (28 ounces)
1 cup frozen peas

  1. Put a pot of salted water on to boil for pasta.
  2. In a tiny amount of olive oil or white wine (for fat free version) saute onion, carrot and garlic.
  3. When onion is nearly translucent add basil and marjoram and saute for about a minute more.
  4. Add canned tomatoes (including liquid) and bring to a boil. Break up tomatoes using the spoon and boil for about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary (if you like a sweeter sauce, this would be the time to add sweetener... though I don't advocate it)
  5. By now the water should be boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package directions, adding the frozen broccoli for the final few minutes of cooking time.
  6. Drain the pasta and broccoli and return to pot.
  7. If desired, stir either olive oil or vegan butter through pasta (to prevent sticking) and broccoli and season generously with pepper and salt if necessary (skip this step for fat free).
  8. Stir in vegetable mixture and serve.
Note: My husband actually likes this dish as it stands in step 7 with LOTS of pepper and olive oil. He calls it "Macaroni and Greens". This is what it looks like.

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