Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - What do you put on your pasta?

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11-17-2008, 04:17 PM
I've pretty much eliminated pasta from the dinner menu because I can't think of any healthier options for sauce/toppings. We both love maranaria and alfredo. I like pesto, but the bf doesn't. Then there's straight up butter or olive oil and seasonings, but the bf doesn't seem to have the same tastes as I do in that area. I love olives and fetta, but again, the bf. I need some topping ideas that we both will like.

What do you guys do?

11-17-2008, 04:25 PM
I make my own pasta sauce which I like better than any jarred version (and most restaurant versions). It's very simple to make and re-heats beautifully (tastes better the next day).


1 lb meat (I've used very lean hamburger, ground turkey, morning star farm veggie crumbles, chicken meatballs, whatever you want)
3 cans tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
splash of red wine
red pepper flakes (to taste)
a little olive oil
red onion (chopped)
fresh basil
1 tbs oregano
garlic (TONS)
big handful of sun dried tomatoes
Anything else that sounds good to you. I've added chopped crimini mushrooms, shredded zucchini, shredded or green peppers would also be good but I personally hate them)

Brown the meat in a little bit of olive oil. Drain if needed. Add onion, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes. Add other vegetables (if desired, this is when I usually add mushrooms).

Put 3 cans of tomatoes, can of tomato paste, big handful of fresh basil leaves, and sun dried tomatoes in a food processor, pulse until blended.

Dump tomato mixture into pot with meat/onions. Bring to a bubble. Add a splash of red wine. Simmer for 10 minutes.

11-17-2008, 04:31 PM
Sounds amazing! How many servings do you think that makes?

11-17-2008, 04:37 PM
I love to saute some onion and garlic in a little olive oil, then throw in a can of diced or crushed tomatoes. Simmer it a little until it thickens, then add some basil (fresh if you have it), otherwise dried, and a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes. If I make this, I add some feta and chopped kalamata olives to mine. DH might add some sausage or a chopped chicken breast to his.

I also make my own homemade tomato sauce that requires long, slow simmering for hours and tastes incredible (if I do say so myself). Again, I'll eat it veggie style and DH will brown some burger or add some sausage to his.

I also like to make a sort of vegetable primavera ... just saute in olive oil and a little bit of butter whatever veggies you feel like. I usually do onions, garlic, mushrooms, broccoli, maybe zucchini or yellow squash ... throw in some chopped kalamata olives and some basil ... mmmmmm. DH doesn't like this one as much, so I tend to throw on a packet of frozen tomato sauce for him to put on his pasta.

I find pasta to be pretty versatile, actually. The trick here is that I make a basic sauce or a basic veggie primavera and then I let DH add whatever he wants to his. Sometimes he eats the same as I do, but mostly he adds some kind of meat and parm cheese.


11-17-2008, 04:49 PM
DH might add some sausage or a chopped chicken breast to his.

I also make my own homemade tomato sauce that requires long, slow simmering for hours and tastes incredible (if I do say so myself).

Ground sausage?
Homemade tomato sauce? Do tell!!

11-17-2008, 04:59 PM
I cut up red onion, eggplant, bell pepper, and zucchini into chunks and toss with a tsp or two of olive oil, salt, and pepper. I then put in a few cloves of garlic wrapped in foil in the corner of a roasting pan, add the veggies in, and roast until caramelized and yummy (usually about 50min to an hour at 375 degrees, but it depends how big you cut them).

I then heat some jarred marinara (I like TJ's brand), squish in the roasted garlic cloves, and combine the pasta with the roasted veggies and sauce. It's sort of a chunky roasted primavera.

11-17-2008, 05:18 PM
Here's my handy dandy tomato sauce recipe that I got from a friend's Italian mom in New York. :)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Saute onion and garlic in oil over very low heat until cooked translucent. Make sure there are no brown bits in the onion. If there are, pick them out. Very important. Brown bits in the onion will make the sauce bitter. This may take 40+ minutes.

2 c. carrots, chopped fine
1 can diced tomatoes, pureed
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 can water
(It's important here to use *good quality* diced tomatoes and tomato paste. I use Contadina ones most of the time, or another brand that I get at Whole Foods (It's a yellow tin, and they're imported from Italy). When I have them I've used home canned, but my garden isn't big enough any more to produce enough tomatoes for canning, so mostly I rely on storebought. Whatever you do, but don't buy generic or store brand. I can taste the difference - I promise!)

Cook slowly over low heat until reduced by at least 1/3. This will take 3-ish hours.

10-12 leaves basil, chiffonade
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Sugar (to taste - start with 1 tbsp)
Optional: 2 cups chopped veggies (mushrooms, zucchini, etc.)
Optional: italian sausage, removed from casing, browned and drained

Simmer for another hour or so.

Remove from heat. Can be served immediately but is better if left overnight for flavors to blend.

I routinely double or triple this recipe and then freeze it in 1 quart freezer bags. I make it up to the point of adding the meat and veggies and then freeze it. When I need a quick topping for just about anything, the sauce can be thawed in the microwave in an instant. And you can add the veggies, or the meat, or meatballs, or whatever, and simmer it for a little on the stove top to blend together a bit.

I also will put a quart of this on the stove, add a little oregano, and simmer it down even thicker to use as a base for pizzas or calzones. Mmm.

This is hands-down the best pasta sauce recipe I've ever made, and I've tried dozens of them.


11-17-2008, 06:23 PM
Wow. Sounds delicious! Thank you! I'm going to try this and let you know! (It might be a couple weeks with Thanksgiving coming up though).

11-17-2008, 09:37 PM
Creamy Southwestern Pasta: Stir nonfat (or reduced fat) cream cheese and salsa into macaroni or other small shaped pasta. Stir in some diced ham, sauteed onions, and sauteed green and red peppers for a quick meal. You don't need very much cream cheese, just enough to coat the pasta, maybe 1-2 tbsp per serving of pasta.

Smoked Salmon Pasta: Combine nonfat (or reduced fat) cream cheese with lemon juice (about 1 tbsp each per serving of pasta) and a little freshly ground pepper. If it is still too thick, thin with a little milk or fat free half and half. Stir into linguine or spaghetti-type pasta. Top with smoked salmon and scallions. You can also stir some cooked spinach (I just put it in the colander before I pour in the pasta water, the boiling water running over it cooks it) into the pasta if you want.

Pasta with Tonnato (Tuna) Sauce and Crunchy Breadcrumbs:

To make the sauce, combine 1/2 can tuna in olive oil (drained--but save the oil), 1-2 tbsp capers, 1 tbsp lemon juice, a pinch of sea salt, and 1/2 tbsp olive oil (use the oil from the tuna, if you still have it) in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
Stir together remaining 1/2 can tuna in oil (drained), 1 can tuna in water (drained), some roasted red pepper strips, and 1/2 tin anchovies (leave the anchovies out if you don't like them).
Melt 1 tbsp light butter in saute pan and add 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (about 35g). Saute until breadcrumbs are toasted but not burnt (keep an eye on them).
Tossed cooked pasta with 1/2 tbsp olive oil (again, use the oil from the tuna if you saved it) and the sauce you made in step 1. Top with the tuna mixture from step 2 and the breadcrumbs from step 3.

This makes four servings. I use 2 oz dried pasta per serving.

12-04-2008, 07:37 PM
This is really lo-cal and handy in the summer when someone will give you zucchini instead of having to buy it. :lol:

Cut up a medium-sized zucchini in really small pieces. Chop up a medium sized onion (I like Walla Walla or Maui sweet) into small pieces. Saute these in a little olive oil. Add a can of seasoned diced tomatos or two if you have a lot of veggies (if you can't find the petite diced tomatoes, you can thow the regular diced in a food processor/blender to get smaller chunks). Add garlic if you like. COok the mixture over low heat until it's the thickness you like for pasta sauce. I love pasta and find a lot of sauces too high in calories, but this is not if you keep the oil to a minimum. You could even skip sauteeing the veggies in oil - I just prefer it for the taste.