I’ve been craving pasta a lot…the nothing fancy, always delicious spaghetti in a tomato pasta. I don’t have standard recipe written out. As with most of my standard weeknight fare, I leave recipes to the side and just interpret the food. So below, it’s not a real recipe, but more of a guideline. Spaghetti is often something holy and sacred in households: we each have our own version that comforts us and feeds us, perhaps both literally and figuratively. My spaghetti is rarely the exact same – the dishes are siblings or cousins of each other. Sometimes, I’ll leave the tomatoes out, and opt for a “white spaghetti” (read unhealthy but delicious, made with low fat (or full fat) half and half).
Why leave the tomatoes out tonight though, particularly when the farmer’s market has been having these lovely, heaping piles of heirloom cherry tomatoes. Combined with delicious, sweet multi-coloured carrots. A splash of peas (do you not know I love peas?). An onion and some garlic to set the base. Fresh basil for a spark of green and burst of flavor. And a few splashes from an 18 year old bottle of the richest, syrupy balsamic my wonderful mother brought me from Tubac, to deepen the flavor. Gosh, doesn’t that sound good?
The ingriedent list
1 medium red onion, diced
3 medium carrots (whatever variety you have on hand), peeled and diced
3-4 stalks of celery, washed and sliced
3 (or more, if you like) cloves of garlic
2-3 large handfuls of fresh cherry tomatoes
1/2 bottle of your favorite tomato sauce (I used Barilla)
A generous splash of good balsamic (it makes all the difference)
*I used 1/2 lbs of lean, ground turkey season with tarragon and parsley and cooked separately from the sauce. Add this in if you’d like meat in the dish, otherwise, leave it out for a vegetarian option.
1. Saute the onion and garlic in some olive oil, until the onion is soft. While the onion and garlic are cooking, prep the celery, carrots, and tomatoes.
2. Add the celery and carrots, as they will take longer to cook. Salt and pepper the sauteing vegetables.
3. Add the tomatoes, and the tomato sauce, the fresh basil, any other herbs (parsley maybe). (If you’re using meat, add the cooked ground meat now). Also add the balsamic. Simmer over low heat for 15 or 20minutes…or as long as it takes you to cook some whole wheat pasta in a separate pot. Pictured is spaghetti noodles, but this sauce works well with farfalle and rotini as well.For the two of us, I was able to get two hearty dinners as well as enough sauce to freeze for a quick weeknight in the future. And doesn’t that sound lovely, coming home to a dinner that’s as simple as cooking pasta?
And it really can’t be that simple, can it? Of course, if you have time (or planned ahead on the weekend), you could also slow roast the tomatoes in a 220 degree oven for 4 hours. Just sprinkle the tomatoes with some olive oil and small amount of salt. The picture to the right is from an early weekend adventure doing just that. Frankly, like I stated above…it’s a dish that is open to variations. Last week…because I’ve been in that pasta type of mood…I made mine with mushrooms and peppers and without the celery. I’d love to hear your favorite pastas…or that food that gives you the greatest comforts.