Monday, March 23, 2015

Miracle Pasta from Guilt-Free Weeknight Favorites

I'm a little embarrassed to say that wasn't familiar with Mr. Food until I got the cookbook Guilt-Free Weeknight Meals. The name was vaguely familiar, but if I ran into him in the produce aisle, I wouldn't have recognized him.

If you're as much in the dark as I was, he was on television.

But this isn't about his fame, it's about his book. Guilt-Free Weeknight Meals is endorsed by the American Diabetes Association, if that's important to you.

That's not what I was thinking about when I decided to make Miracle Pasta. I just wanted to see if it would work. This pasta i similar to those I've seen all over the Internet, where pasta, other ingredients, and liquid are thrown into a pot and it's cooked until the liquid has turned into a sauce.

Many of those recipes include a whole bunch of other ingredients that need to all cook together. And the pasta needs to be cooked just right at the same time the liquid is reduced enough. This recipe is a little more simple, with just onions and garlic needing to be cooked through.

Now that I've made it once, I have a few adjustments I might make the next time. For one thing, since I live at high altitude, the pasta took quite a bit longer to cook. For another thing, next time around, I'd add more flavor. Maybe some bell pepper. Maybe shrimp. Maybe some tomato paste to add some richness.

But for a quick meal made from basic pantry ingredients, this was pretty good. The recipe points out that you could use whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta. Or a half-and-half mix of white and whole wheat. I think I'd use one or the other, but not a mix, since they might not cook to the same texture in the same time.

Miracle Pasta
Adapted from Guilt-Free Weeknight Meals by Mr. Food

Balti cooking pot courtesy of  Le Creuset.
12 ounces* linguine pasta, broken in half (this it to fit into the pot - if you've got a wide pot, you can leave them whole.
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, diced or sent through a garlic press
4 1/2 cups** chicken (or vegetable) broth or stock
2 teaspoons dry oregano (use tablespoon for more flavor)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste. I thought it needed a bit more)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (I used more)
1 tablespoon grated parmesan (more for serving, if desired)

Put everything except the basil and parmesan in a large pot. Cover, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.

Cook for 10 minutes, or as long as needed to cook the pasta, stirring every few minutes to make sure the pasta doesn't stick. The liquid should be mostly gone. If there seems to be too much liquid and the pasta is nearly done, uncover the pot and stir more often until the sauce is saucy.

Add the basil and cheese. Stir and serve.

If desired, have more cheese available to add at the table.

*Every package of linguine I looked at was 16 ounces, so I weighed it to get 12 ounces, Next time, I'd probably use 1/2 of the box and cut back on the liquid, Or, if you're feeding more people, use the whole box.

**If you're buying it, I'm pretty sure an average container is 4 cups. It doesn't make sense to open another container for the remaining 1/2 cup, so I suggest adding water or perhaps tomato juice if you happen to have it. I was using my own stock here. Using chicken stock, this is a meatless meal; if you want to make it vegetarian, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

I received this book from the publisher at no cost to me.