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Easy marinara sauce

So I was trying out a new recipe ” Pasta Pomodoro”. However, I did not like the consistency of the sauce to accompany the pasta. Traditional Italian “pasta pomodoro” refers to a pasta dish that is prepared with olive oil, tomatoes, basil, and other fresh ingredients. The tomatoes from the can I was using were cut into rather large chunks and I ended up just pureeing the sauce. Therefore, creating another marinara sauce recipe.

I will have to revisit “Pasta Pomodoro” some day and I will be mindful of the size of the tomato pieces.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 can organic tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
fresh oregano leaves to taste
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the olive in small pan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until softened. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 5-6 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced slightly and thickened. (This is when I blended the sauce in the blender and returned it to pan after.) Add basil and oregano leaves. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Pour the sauce over pasta (we used farfalle pasta) and sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately and enjoy =)

Farfalle with marinara sauce

Farfalle with marinara sauce

Healthful notes:
* Homemade marinara sauce has fewer ingredients than most store-bought pasta sauce. It also will likely have fewer calories and will have a lower sodium content.
* You can easily use garden-fresh tomatoes in place of canned tomatoes. Our tomato plants are still fairly small and have not even started flowering yet.

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Angel hair pasta with autumn vegetable ragout

(From Betty Crocker Vegetarian Cooking)

3 cups water
1 medium dark-orange sweet potato, peeled, diced
8 ounces uncooked angel hair (capellini) pasta
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 medium tomatoes, chopped (4 cups)
1 small zucchini, cut lengthwise in half, then cut crosswise into slices (1 cup)
1 small yellow summer squash, cut lengthwise in half, then cut crosswise into slices (1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan

1. In 4-quart Dutch oven, heat water to boiling over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato; cook 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain.
2. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package.
3. Meanwhile, in 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in tomatoes. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly soft. Stir in zucchini, yellow squash, sweet potato, salt, and pepper. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender.
4. Serve vegetables over pasta. Sprinkle with cheese.

Angel hair pasta with autumn vegetable ragout

Angel hair pasta with autumn vegetable ragout

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Spaghetti with Walnut Sauce

I was a bit skeptical at first. Pasta and walnuts?! Not a combination I had grown up with in Germany or knew from visiting Italy. And let’s be honest, nothing comes close to traditional, home-style Italian pasta. Well…I loved this dish…even though any Italian out there may say that this is not authentic Italian cooking =P

Ingredients (Makes 2-3 servings):

1 cup walnut pieces or halves
3 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs, see note
3 tablespoons olive or walnut oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1-2 cloves garlic (optional)
ΒΌ cup butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
14 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve, see note

Preparation (Preparation time approximately 20 minutes):
1. I used the walnuts as they came from the bag. (Alternatively, to remove the skins you can drop the nuts into a small pan of boiling water, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Drain. Slip of the skins. Dry on paper towels.) Coarsely chop and set aside about a quarter of the nuts.

2. Place the remaining nuts, the breadcrumbs, oil, parsley, and garlic (if using) in a food processor or blender. Process to a paste. Remove to a bowl, and stir in the softened butter and the milk. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Cook the pasta in a large pan of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, and toss with the sauce. Sprinkle with the reserved chopped nuts, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

* I like to use home-made bread crumbs. See suggestion under:
* We have grown fond of Pecorino Romano cheese instead of Parmesan cheese. It is a bit milder in taste.
* This dish stores well in the refrigerator in an air-tight container and can easily be reheated using the microwave.

Pasta with walnut sauce

Pasta with walnut sauce


Adapted from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Italian Cooking by Carla Capalbo


Healthful benefits:
* Walnuts (including their skin) are a good source of vitamin E. They also are rich in magnesium and potassium. They even contain a fair amount of calcium.