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Monday, March 05, 2007

Dinner tonight: Pasta Two-Step

I am ashamed to admit that this recipe was wholly inspired by the March 2007 issue of Martha Stewart's charmingly tiny but ad-filled Everyday Food magazine. If you've ever caught the Everday Food show on KQED, those Martha Stewart employees/hosts are surprisingly non-Satan-worshippy. One of the cover features that piqued my interest was all about "Boil & Toss Pastas," because really, what's better than a fast, healthy, totally satisfying meal that doesn't dirty up more than two pans and isn't stir-fry? Some of the Everyday Food recipes called for unnecessary steps like making your own pesto in a food processor (please, I barely own a colander and one pot big enough to boil pasta in, much less a food processor or the budget for pine nunts) or fancy things that I don't normally buy like, yes, pine nuts and sundried tomatoes packed in oil.
I came up with my own boil-and-toss pasta combination last night with what I had on hand--all you have to do is boil up the pasta, chop up some veggies and meat product if you wish, drain and throw it all together with or without sauce. This took me less than fifteen minutes, a dinner for two!

2 cups dried pasta, like penne or spirals
1 medium zucchini or squash
1 orange bell pepper
5-10 slices salami or pepperoni
1-2 tablespoons store-bought pesto (Trader Joe's pesto genovese is pretty yummy)
olive oil, Parmesan cheese

1. Boil water in a medium saucepan, salt it heavily. Start the pasta cooking and set your timer for one minute fewer than directed on the package.
2. While the pasta is boiling, slice the zucchini into thin two-inch long (about the same length as the pasta you're using) strips, slice the bell pepper and salami into thinner strips. When your timer goes off, add the zucchini to the pasta pot and continue to boil for a minute, or until the zucchini is cooked but still crunchy.
3. Throw the sliced peppers and salami into a colander in the sink and drain pasta/zucchini on top. This will warm up the raw veggies without cooking them to retain a nice, fresh crunch. Shake the colander a bit to get all the extra water out, then add a bit of olive oil and the pesto. Toss with a fork quickly and thoroughly. Garnish with cheese and enjoy!

Look at that, only three dishes dirtied--pot, colander, and plate. If you were to sautee those veggies alongside the boiling pasta, you'd have to dirty up another pan, utensil, AND have the extra fat and worry. See how easy that was? This is my new favorite dinner! Try boiling other raw vegetables like mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, or green beans with the pasta for its last few minutes. Mix in raw, or easy frozen veggies like peas and carrots if you don't have fresh on hand. This method also works well to make pasta salad for the next day. Enjoy!

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