Not surprisingly, pasta is my default blank slate. Late night at work? Get out some pasta and mix a few things up. Left overs taking over the fridge? Bring out the pasta and make it all work together. The below is less of a recipe and more of a guideline, to be adjusted for your taste buds, your current stock of vegetables, and the mood you’re in.
On Saturday, I found myself hungry (duh) and with left over peppers, tomatoes, onions, and basil from the week’s cooking. There was also a an almost empty bottle of wine, a mishmash of pasta types (all small, like farfalle, rotini, and orrechiette). The weather was cold. A warm, hearty bowl of carbs sounded perfect. To top things off, Casey and my dad were wrapping up the install on a ceiling fan, so it was the least I could do to make them lunch since the only help I provided with the whole ceiling fan debacle was picking it out at the store.
Back to pasta. Here’s the basics:
- One small to medium onion, diced
- 2-3 gloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 2 medium red bell peppers, diced
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- A bunch of fresh basil
- A bunch of fresh parsley
- Small pinch of red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper
- Some red wine
- Toasted slivered almonds
- Grated Parmesan
- Short pasta such as rotini, or penne
There is no real science here, as it’s a recipe for left overs and open to adaptation. Start with sautéing the onion in olive oil over medium heat, add salt and cook until translucent, stirring as to not burn the onions. Then add the garlic and bell peppers, cooking for another minute or two. Add in the tomatoes,tomato paste, and wine; allow the vegetables to cook down, about 3-5 minutes. Turn the head to low. In a separate bot, bring heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to instructions, checking it starting 2-3 minutes before the directions say it will be done. Once pasta is your preferred level of done (I like mine with a bit of chewiness still), reserve 1 cup pasta water, then strain the remaining pasta.
Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce, add the pasta water to help distribute the sauce. Bring the heat back up to medium and cook the pasta and sauce together for 1-2 minutes. Stir in fresh basil, parsley and nuts. Serve with a sprinkling of fresh grated cheese.