(Authors Preface: I will be selecting a winner at random for a family pack of Dreamfields Pasta AND a $25 gift card. All you have to do is comment on this page and share it on facebook, twitter and whatever else you use to stalk all your ex’s and you are in, Baby! The more you share, the higher your chances! Use the hashtag #IHeartDreamfields for bonus points. Good luck!! I’ll contact the lucky winner for your name and address, Dreamfields will take care of the rest. No, I’m not kidding. Erica, if you read this, well, you know who I am and can comment appropriately!)
Her dark, dark eyes were a pool of thought as she watched me with scrutiny and curiosity. Which was it? I didn’t know, but it was enough to unnerve me and I became suddenly clumsy, thinking of things that I usually didn’t and berating myself a bit for every single knife skills mistake and unnecessary movement. My cooking ability, honed for years by necessity, which generally kept myself fed and my bank account as close to above zero as possible, seemed to have deserted me in this time of need. “Do not be afraid of your food. It will know.” Anthony Bourdain first used this phrase in his book, “Kitchen Confidential,” a book I had read over and over until the covers fell off.
Then, just like that, my hand slipped and the onion flipped in my hands, which were manifesting my inward state. I so wanted to impress this girl that I had just met, someone that had already made a major impact on me and I felt I was falling hard for her. I could NOT afford to continue wining and dining her in restaurants – I was nearly broke and tired of dating.
I suffered my first major injury that evening in the kitchen. I severed the nerve that helps your left forefinger operate properly, an injury which lingers even today. We assessed the situation in silence for a moment as I tried to pretend it didn’t happen. We ordered a pizza and spent the rest of the night of the night watching Zoolander, drinking a decent bottle of wine and laughing like old friends. Three years later – we were married. I did get the girl of my dreams that night.
Now we make this recipe as a failsafe if we are in a hurry or just whenever we want a fresh, tasty Italian meal. With a toddler and the schedules of artists, we are lucky to spend so much time with our son, but some days things get a bit crazy. Here is the quick and easy, mac and cheesy recipe [Thanks to Guy Fieri for this analogy] for you to enjoy!)
Ron & Laura’s Awesome Pasta with Quick and Healthy Tomato Sauce.
Total Cooking Time: 12-20 minutes. Even faster if your ingredients are already chopped. Cost: Around $4-10. Serves: 3-10, according to how hungry they are.
- A quick and easy trip to the store. I timed it from start to finish at the grocer and it took me exactly eleven minutes.
- Ingredients: One large quality can of whole tomatoes, peeled. Save money here by looking for scratches and dents. These are discounted during checkouts. It is important to get a quality product here, or you can use fresh tomatoes if you like. Two heads of garlic, a handful of olives (your choice), one sweet onion, one half of a pound of ground meat of your choice (we prefer lamb, pork or veal, or choose a veggie route and skip the meat) one large sweet pepper, two basil leaves, one rough handful of basil and one Box of Dreamfields Angel Hair Pasta. Note: We like to think that we make our own pasta, but the truth is, it’s a lot of work and sometimes we just don’t have time. Dreamfields is an amazingly healthy alternative that is incredibly similar to handmade pasta. We LOVE it. Most importantly, so does our son. The pasta has 7 grams of protein, so we feel safe without meat products.
- Pre-Heat your burners. Trust me. Make sure nobody gets burned by quickly putting your cooking vessels in place. Use at least two quarts of water for the pasta with lots of salt and bring to a rapid boil while you are prepping. For your sauce, I prefer my ancient cast iron skillet, but any pot, pan, metal bucket over a fire or anything else will work as long as it is large enough.
- Prep your vegetables. Just peel the garlic, smash them with the blade of your knife and dice everything else. Knife cuts are not important. Just don’t cut yourself! Chef’s tip for the onion: Cut it in half along the axis of the vegetable. Flip and cut one end off, then peel. Leave one end for a finger hold while you chop. This will prevent any possibility of cutting your hand as you work on your knife skills.
- Put around two tablespoons of a high quality olive oil in the skillet and add the onion and garlic. Don’t heat the oil to its smoke point! If you see smoke, turn down the heat immediately! I start with medium high heat and reduce as needed.
- As soon as the garlic and onion start to brown, reduce the heat appropriately and add the ground lamb (your choice) mixing them with a wooden spoon (Any other implement will work – I’ve even used oversized tent stakes. Don’t laugh! It works!)
- Add the pasta to the water now. It should have enough room to float. Set your timer to five minutes. Add the can of tomatoes, basil, bay leaves and chopped sweet pepper now. Turn the heat to high.
- Check the pasta as your timer beeps about this second. It should still be firm, not soggy and have some “tooth” to the palate and taste. You don’t want it to be soggy. Drain into a colander and rinse with cold water. Set your plates and check your sauce. It should be cooked through and incredibly tasty, but simple. We’re going Italian all the way tonight! Use salt and pepper and even brown sugar as you like to achieve the taste your family wants.
- Plate the pasta.
- Spoon the sauce over the pasta.
- Garnish with chopped olives, herbs and lots of grated Parmesan Cheese! (If you must, use the pre-shredded cheese, just please don’t stoop so low as to use the stuff in the green plastic cans. Ewwww.)
Serve!!! Your child will throw it everywhere, but really, who cares? This pairs equally well with a Malbec, Italian Sparkling Water, or Grape Juice in a Sippy Cup!!
(Authors Notes: You can adjust this recipe as you like. Remember, cooking is a deeply personal enterprise, especially when it is for your family. The wonderful thing about cooking is you can do what you want, the end product is all that matters. Pura Vida!)