Tag Archives: pasta sauce

Food Matters Project #35: Provencal Pasta Sauce

It’s another Monday installment of the Food Matters Project!  Last week we hosted the Rice & Lamb Burgers with Spinach & Tzatziki Sauce, a perfect recipe for the upcoming grilling season.  This week’s host is Nancy, of Funkytown Foodies.  She’s one of three friends that have a food blog together- they all document delicious, healthy and local recipes.

Nancy chose the Provencal Vegetables with Chicken in Packets recipe from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook.  Check out Nancy’s recipe- she made a few changes to the original.  Also, all other ideas from FMP participants can be found here.

Thanks to the weather, I took a completely different take on this recipe.  It’s the second Monday in a row that DC has been gloomy and rainy.  Why Monday?  It’s such a hard way to start the week.  Since it’s cold and blah out, I wanted something comforting and saucy.  And due to poor planning, I forgot to defrost the chicken…had various vegetables that needed to be eaten in our fridge.

So I began chopping up the vegetables, hoping an idea would just pop into my head.  It did, once all of the vegetables were chopped up and mixed together- why not make a sauce to put over some pasta?  Comforting, warm, and full of flavor…making me wish for spring even more!  We didn’t have any parsley in our fridge, but it might be a good garnish on top.  This really reminded me of Sam’s Summer Sauce, and now I can’t wait for farmers market tomatoes!

Provencal Pasta Sauce

Provencal Pasta Sauce
Inspired by: The Food Matters Cookbook (page 464)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium eggplant, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 cup canned chopped tomatoes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 large red onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup black olives, halved
3/4 cup green olives, halved
1 zucchini, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 cups of water
1/2 lb pasta (we used whole wheat spaghetti)
Parmesan or feta cheese (optional)

Pour the olive oil into a large pot, heat it up.  Once it’s hot add all of the chopped vegetables, the herbs, salt, pepper and water.  Stir well and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, bring down the temperature to low, simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours.

If you prefer chunkier sauce, then leave the sauce as is.  If you’d prefer a smoother sauce, then puree all of it.  If you’re like us, and you want it somewhere it the middle, puree about half of it in a blender or food processor.

Cook pasta per package instructions.  Drain, and divide between the plates.  Then spoon out the provencal sauce, sprinkle with parsley.  If you prefer, top it all off with some Parmesan or feta.

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Food Matters Project #3: Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

We’re onto our third recipe for the Food Matters Project.  I apologize for the delay, but we were out of town this weekend- and with no groceries in the fridge, it’s hard to make dinner!

Whenever I come back home, whether it’s from vacation, a work trip or just a weekend getaway, I always want something home cooked and fresh.  But it’s very difficult to have anything in the fridge if you were gone (since it’ll go bad).  Does anyone have great recipes which they make once they’re back from being out of town?  If so, I’d love to hear them (or have some links).

This week’s challenge was: Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut “Pesto”.  Mark Bittman gave some ideas on how to change up this pesto, which we did- although we also had some of our own ideas.  As he suggested, this does not only need to go onto pasta, feel free to pour it over vegetables, use it as a spread or an appetizer dip!

As with many recipes which we make, feel free to change out any ingredients which you like or don’t like, or have in your fridge or pantry.  For example, we used arugula- but spinach would be a great substitute.  Instead of pine nuts, use walnuts.  Or add some beans.  There are a million possibilities!

Heather has chosen this weeks recipe of Roasted Red Pepper Pesto.

If you’d like to see our previous Food Matters Project recipes, check them out here:
Seasoned Popcorn
Squash with Chipotle Dipping Sauce

Roasted Red Pesto
Inspired by: The Food Matters Cookbook

1 lbs dried fusilli pasta
1 16 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained
1/4 cup kalamata olives, drained
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, drained
2 cups baby arugula
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 tbsp olive oil (you can use less or more, per your taste and texture)
salt (per your tastebuds)
pepper (per your tastebuds)
1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

Add dry pasta to liberally salted, boiling water.

In a skillet over medium heat, add garlic to 1 tbsp of heated olive oil and sweat for 1 minute, being careful not to burn.  Add mushrooms, pine nuts, pepper and crushed red pepper and saute until the mushrooms are soft.  Add arugula and saute another 1-2 minutes until wilted.

Transfer mushroom/arugula mixture, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, red peppers, and grated cheese to a food processor.  Process mixture, slowly adding about 2 tablespoons olive oil until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste, then pour mixture over drained pasta and serve!

Sam’s Summer Pasta Sauce

One of the first meals that Sam had made for me was this sauce, and I loved it!  He’s been perfecting this baby for years, so it is delicious.  I couldn’t wait until the tomatoes were in season, since this pasta is significantly better with deep red fresh tomatoes.

It’s finally tomato season!  Hopefully, my pasta sauce recipe will help you figure out how to use them.

It looks like a lot, but really, this one is pretty easy.  I developed this recipe over a couple years of trial and error.  Originally, I prepared the sauce as noted below, but then simmered it for about an hour over the stovetop.  I’ve found that omitting this last step and serving it with the tomatoes and herbs in their raw state gives the sauce a really nice, fresh-from-the-garden flavor.  I hope you like it.

Sam’s Summer Pasta Sauce

1 box, dry pasta (I recommend penne or rigatoni)
3 large, ripe tomatoes, quartered
2 zucchini, slice length-wise & chopped into chunks
2 squash, slice length-wise & chopped into chunks
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced thickly
5 garlic cloves, minced
handful of fresh basil
6 sprigs of fresh oregano
¾ can, drained, pitted, black olives
Dry red wine (a nice Chianti works well)
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

In a large saucepan, melt the butter together with the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Then add the squash, zucchini, and onion together with the salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.

Now is a good time to start boiling your pasta.  I recommend cooking in liberally salted boiling water until al dente.  When done, drain and rinse in cold water to ensure it doesn’t continue to cook.

When the onions are translucent, add the mushrooms and garlic.  Continue to sauté until the mushrooms soften but still have a bit of a bite.  Remove from heat.

In a large food processor, add quarter of the sauté mixture together with the tomatoes, oregano, basil, olives, and a splash of wine and olive oil.  Pureé and add more salt, pepper, and olive oil as necessary.

Serve the sauce with the remainder of the squash mixture over the cooked pasta and top with a little fresh, grated parmesan (not that powdered stuff!).  Oh, and don’t forget to drink the remainder of that wine!

Buon appetito!