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Sunday, February 11, 2007

RECIPE Tip of the Day 2/11/07: Veggie Pasta Sauce

Jazz up (and fiber up) your jarred spaghetti sauce with this recipe:

LushMommy's "Get More Veggies in Your Diet" Pasta

1 bag (12-16 oz) of penne pasta, rotini or your pasta shape of preference (I find long strands of spaghetti too messy with my son. *See more Shopping Tips below.)
1 24-oz jar of tomato-based pasta sauce* (A tip how to open a jar easily: use a can piercer to pry under the lid and break the vacuum.)
Olive oil* (the amount to taste, really; just keep the bottle out)
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped fine
3-6 slices of bacon, chopped (omit if you like; you could use ham too, even the cold cuts kind, pref. smoked)
1 cup of carrots, chopped fine*
1 cup of frozen peas*

  1. Start cooking the pasta according to its directions. Put a tablespoon of salt if you wish in the boiling water. Before draining, save about 3-4 tblsp of the hot water (use it to wash out the pasta sauce jar and get out the remaining bits of goodness). Drain pasta well in a colander, but DO NOT RINSE. Coat liberally with olive oil.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat more olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 min, until onions are slightly translucent. Add bacon, sauté for about 5 min, until the bacon has sweated out most of its tasty fat.
  3. Add carrots, sauté 2-3 min. Add peas, sauté another 5 min.
  4. Open pasta sauce jar and pour into saucepan. To the jar, add the reserved pasta water, put back the top and give it a good shake. Add it to the heating sauce.
  5. Cover saucepan, lower heat, and let the sauce come to a simmer. Leave it be for 5-10 min (depending on how impatient you and your family are).
  6. In a large bowl, add drained pasta and sauce and gently mix. (It’s better to pre-mix so the sauce is evenly distributed.) Serve generously to you and your hungry brood.

Shopping Tips:

: I usually buy whole grain ones, organic if it's on sale. Barilla Plus tastes good; Rozoni Healthy Harvest has an extra-grainy texture and feels like a dead weight in your stomach. Bionaturae and Bella Terra are good organic Italian brands. When looking at price for organic, I can find them on sale for $1.99 or better. If you've paid more than $2.99, you've been jipped.

Pasta Sauce: Classico and Victoria are good brands, the latter though being very pricey. I look that the first ingredient is "chopped tomatoes," not "purred tomatoes" because the latter means water is the real first ingredient. Another ingredient to look for is olive oil, not soybean or canola oil, which usually means it tastes a little better.

Olive Oil: Extra-virgin olive oil is nice, but use whatever you have. I like to buy high-quality single-olive-type oils (Trader Joe's has them for a good value), no matter what country of origin, be it Italy, Greece, or Spain (I hear California has good ones too). Blended extra virgin oil of several different types of olives tend to not taste as fine (it can say it was produced in one country, like Italy, but the olives come from other countries). You and your family can be the judge.

Carrots and Peas: You can save yourself the trouble and just use 2 cups of frozen peas and carrots blend. Add frozen peas and/or carrots to the last 6-7 min of boiling the macaroni for boxed mac and cheese to sneak in more veggies there.

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