Pasta Puttanesca

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Sugo alla puttanesca is a simple sauce made of tomatoes, black olives, capers, and anchovies. Served with spaghetti makes Spaghetti alla puttanesca.

This comes together quickly, so prep everything before starting the water for pasta. Start the water, and then immediately start the sauce. By the time the water boils, you'll be done with the work in the sauce and just letting it simmer. Then while it simmers, the pasta cooks. Cook the pasta a little below al dente, then drain and add it to the sauce. Toss to coat, and let sit for a bit more for the pasta to finish cooking and soak up some of the sauce.

I combined two recipes I found to make this (this recipe from Vikalinka and this recipe from MyRecipes), so I wasn't quite sure how it'd turn out. Next time I'm going to chop up the capers to spread them out a bit. I'm also going to try parsley instead of basil, as is more traditional, and the Wikibooks recipe recommended adding some shrimp for protein...

Spaghetti with puttanesca sauce on a plate with bread and
butter

Lentil Marinara

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I'd never tried lentils before, which is a shame because they're great. Easy to make and nutritious, lentils are a good staple to have in your pantry. They're like dried beans, without the lengthy overnight soaking before use.

Since I also had a bunch of tomato sauce makings about, I decided to see if they could be combined. I had previously made a red bean and tomato sauce recipe, but beans are large and chewy, and the end result was unappetizing at best.

However, adding 1 cup of red lentils and 2 cups of water to my tomato sauce recipe turned out wonderfully. I just added the lentils and water immediately after everything else, and let the whole thing simmer for 25 minutes until the lentils were tender. The lentils added some flavor and a bunch of protein, so it's a good option for vegetarians (the parmesan cheese I added stopped it from being vegan). Added together with some roasted broccoli and I had a nice, healthy meal.

Tomato sauce with red lentils and roasted broccoli

Tortellini with Tomato Sauce

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For some reason, I prefer tortellini to ravioli. Maybe it's the shape, how it holds onto the sauce, or the ratio of pasta to filling. Whatever it is, I'm always up for tortellini.

Unfortunately, it's a lot of work to make. This endeavour is best done with friends in large batches, frozen until ready to eat. The alternative, ready-made fresh tortellini, is usually outside my budget. So, when there was a sale, I had to jump on it.

So I bought some chicken and mozarella tortellini. Combined with my recipe for tomato sauce, and some roasted cauliflower, I had an excellent dinner!

I've been making this tomato sauce recipe for a few months now, and I have to say I'm not going back to cans or jars. Tomato sauce is easy (though it does take 30 minutes) and delicious, with bright flavors that don't seem to survive the canning process.

And, since my oven was empty while making the pasta and sauce, I roasted some cauliflower with pepper and thyme. The result was perfectly browned and tasty.

Tortellini with tomato sauce and roasted cauliflower

Shrimp and Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

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Standing in stark contrast to the last pasta dish I made, there's this one. The blog I got this from, The Pioneer Woman, calls it Penne a la Betsy. In my mundane way, I'm calling it Shrimp and Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce.

This wonderful, rich, creamy dish comes together quickly and, except for the shrimp, I had everything I needed: A small can of tomato sauce from the Indian-spiced Stew a few weeks ago, some pasta I collected (bow ties are cool), and some cream. I've started keeping the ultra-pasteurized cream in my fridge for emergency scone baking and sauces. It keeps for a month, and it's extremely useful.

I didn't have any white wine left (thank the chicken for that one), so I just used a bit of water. This turned out a bit thin, so I let it simmer to thicken it back up. A bit of chicken stock would help fill in some flavor gaps, I suspect, if you don't have wine. Personally, I filled those gaps with some parmesan and red pepper.

All in all, this one was very good. I gorged myself stupid, have plenty of leftovers, and now, fat and happy, I'm telling you about it.

PS: The leftovers went well mixing the peas right in there.

Shrimp and Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce and some peas