Monday, September 7, 2009
Simple Pasta with Red Sauce
(...and sneaky bell peppers!)
With three children under the age of five to take care of, I don't have a lot of time these days to experiment with new recipes. Not to mention, money is a little tighter with so many mouths to feed. When it's time to make dinner, I need to know that my kids are going to both like and eat their food. Yet I also want to make sure that they are getting the nutrition they need. Which means that as much as they would love to subsist on nuggets, fries, macaroni and ice cream, it just isn't possible. They need vegetables.
One of my favorite vegetables to cook with is the bell pepper (both red and green). My husband and I use them all of the time, and they remain a staple item on our weekly grocery list. We try to buy organic (thanks to the high level of pesticide residue on regular peppers) but when we can't I just give the regular ones a good scrubbing with a fruit and vegetable rinse. Bell peppers are an amazing superfood. Not only are they a great source of vitamins B6 and C, plus folic acid and beta carotene, but they are chock full of antioxidants.
However, try telling this to a four year old child. Or actually, don't bother. If yours is anything like mine, you might as well avoid this tantrum: "BUT I DON'T LIKE PEPPERS! I HATE PEPPERS! YOU CAN'T MAKE ME EAT PEPPERS!" I'm not going to lie, my children have gone so far as to throw their peppers right off of the plate and out the door.
So why not avoid the argument altogether? Here is our family recipe for a simple pasta with red sauce where the bell peppers are so tiny, your kids (or picky partners) won't even notice them!
Simple Pasta with Red Sauce
(...and sneaky Bell Peppers)
What You'll Need...
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 medium green bell pepper, finely minced
1 medium yellow onion, finely minced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 shallot, finely minced
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 bay leaves
Penzeys Tuscan Sunset seasoning*
15 oz tomato sauce
1/2 pkg gluten free penne
*If you can't get the Penzeys, their Tuscan Sunset is a mix of: sweet basil, Turkish oregano, Aleppo pepper, garlic, thyme, fennel, black pepper and anise seed
How It Works...
Boil the gluten free penne in a large pot of salted water, following directions on the package. While this is happening...
Mince up your bell pepper, onion, garlic and shallot. If you have a Cuisinart mini-chopper this can cut your prep time considerably, but if not just use a sharp knife and mince away! Combine them in a bowl close at hand.
In a large, deep saucepan pour a good sized glug of grapeseed oil and heat at medium temperature. When the oil is hot but not smoking, use your clean bare hands to squish two large ripe tomatoes over the pan and then add their juice and flesh to the warm oil. Next add the minced vegetable mixture and saute over low heat until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the chili and garlic powders, a liberal sprinkling of Penzeys and the bay leaves. Stir and saute for about 1 additional minute. Finally, pour in the tomato sauce, and reduce heat.
Simmer the sauce on low for about 8-10 minutes and then remove from heat and allow to sit for a few minutes. It will thicken slightly. When your penne has finished boiling, drain it and then add it into the sauce pan full of red sauce. Stir gently with a large wooden spoon until all pasta is well coated with the thickened red sauce. Salt and pepper to taste (if necessary... I don't add extra salt or pepper to ours.) Serve to your family or guests while still warm.
P.S. I made this pasta with red sauce again last week and not only did my kids not notice the green bell peppers, they asked for seconds and thirds :-) HeeHee!
Serves 4-6 and makes a fabulous comfort food.