Monday Night Pasta Sauce

Last week I wanted a bright and very tomato-y pasta sauce. Mark Bittman, in his cookbook “How to Cook Everything,” has several variations on tomato pasta sauce. I combined the spiced, garlicky, and spicy versions together to make this very simple and delicious pasta sauce. It doesn’t take very long to prep or cook, making it a great and quick weeknight meal. Try it and let me know how you like it!

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes (or diced), in their liquid
1 small can of tomato sauce
8 leaves fresh basil, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt, pepper, oregano, to taste
2 servings spaghetti noodles, cooked according to package instruction
shredded Parmesan or pecorino Romano, for garnish

1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.
2. Add the garlic to the pan and saute for 2 minutes, or until the garlic starts to brown slightly. (I’ve learned that if you can smell the garlic, it’s ready.)
3. If you’re using whole tomatoes, chop them first before adding them. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce, and season with the oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the minced basil.
4. Let everything simmer over medium heat for 10-20 minutes.
5. While the sauce is simmering, boil water and cook pasta according to package directions.
6. Strain the pasta and add into the sauce. Turn off the heat to the pasta sauce. Top each individual serving with the rest of the fresh basil and cheese.
7. Enjoy!

Greek Pizza

On Friday evening I had a craving for pizza, but not just any pizza: a Greek pizza.

I looked up the menu to a restaurant where I’ve had a Greek pizza once or twice, and then decided to save my money and make my own.

I already had feta cheese and pepperoncini peppers in the fridge, so I went off to the store to find sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, basil pesto, and since it was too late to make my favorite pizza dough (recipe here) I decided to try my first store-bought fresh pizza dough. (By the way, Raley’s pizza dough is delicious, and cheap.)

This pizza was delicious. I’m sorry if I can’t describe it any better than that, but every ingredient melted together perfectly. Except, of course, for the burned olives. Thankfully, we couldn’t even tell they were burned.

On to the recipe!
pizza

Greek Pizza
1 recipe pizza dough or store bought fresh pizza dough ( I bought mine at Raley’s, but I’ve heard Whole Foods’ is great, and I think Trader Joe’s has one too?)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
basil pesto (about 4 tablespoons)
mozzarella cheese ( about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (either canned or the dried, bagged kind, which is what I had)
Pepperocini peppers (I had canned and sliced in my fridge)
Kalamata olives (I bought the pitted, sliced kind)
feta cheese ( about 2 tablespoons)
Parmesan cheese (about 2 tablespoons)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.. Place oil in skillet over medium heat. Wait about a minute or so until oil is hot, then place garlic in the pan and cook for about a minute, just as it’s beginning to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Follow directions for pizza dough. Once you have the dough rolled and in the pan, spread on the basil pesto. Sprinkle mozzarella, then top with veggies and garlic. Sprinkle on the feta and Parmesan cheeses, then bake in the oven for about 8 to 9 minutes.*

*CAUTION: I would check on these throughout the cooking period. As you’ll see from the photograph, we left ours in for a minute too long and some of the olives burned. To avoid this, check on the pizza about 4 minutes into cooking and again at 8 minutes.

CHANGES:

This pizza was amazing but had very bold flavors. The peso seemed to be a bit much, so next time I’d try to find a jarred pesto made with spinach and with less basil.

Also, I think I’d skip the mozzarella cheese. Not because it wasn’t delicious; it just didn’t need the extra cheese.

What are you favorite pizza toppings?

Ashley

Pasta with Arugula, Tomatoes, and Parmesan Cheese

“Julia Child wasn’t always Julia Child.” — from the movie, “Julie and Julia.”

When I first started to cook, I followed recipes completely, for fear that if I didn’t the final product would fall apart.

When I started creating recipes, I was still afraid to show them off, for lack of confidence.

A few nights ago, I had a vague idea of what I wanted. I knew I wanted pasta, and I knew I wanted breadsticks made from scratch.

Here’s what the boyfriend and I came up with:

(I don’t think the picture does the dish justice but I thought I’d at least show you what it ended up looking like.)

Here’s the recipe:

Pasta with Arugula, Tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese

Prep: about 15 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

Spaghetti
4 garlic cloves
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3 cups arugula
20 cherry tomatoes (we used yellow and red)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
red pepper flakes
salt
pepper

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. (Or, if you’re like Mario Batali, one minute less than the box says.)
2. In a medium or large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until garlic just begins to brown (about 1 to two minutes).
3. Add arugula to garlic and olive oil. Mix and let wilt.
4. Add tomatoes to arugula, garlic, and olive oil mix. Cook until heated through.
5. Toss pasta and Parmesan cheese with arugula mix. Season with black pepper, salt, and red pepper flakes.
6. Serve immediately.

And remember, it’s never too late to become passionate about something. I never thought I’d love to cook, or share recipes.

Enjoy!

Ashley