18 May 2010

Play first, cook later

A couple of weeks ago I checked out a cookbook from the library with a focus on family-friendly meals. I could quickly tell it wasn't the kind of book I'd like to have on my shelves, but I thought I'd at least give it a chance.

After reading through several recipes, I made one, a beans and rice dish. It was OK I suppose, but let's just say I haven't been craving it since. I feel like I could use a few more quick, family-friendly meals in my repertoire, but it seems sometimes those are the hardest to come up with. I think back to the dishes my mom made: goulash, French bread pizza, burritos and tuna casserole. I do make some of these for my family, too, but it always seems like the old standards are just that -- old.

We recently wrapped up a week of Seth being home with us on vacation. We had so much fun, enjoying meals together that we seldom get the chance to. And on a warm Sunday afternoon we took a walk and decided to make it just a bit longer with a stop at the park to slide and swing and climb. I felt a little urge to hurry home and get dinner on the table as the sun dropped to the treeline, but instead, we stayed and played.

When we got home, I pulled a pasta dish together without too much trouble. It was satisfying, good and everyone had seconds. There is nothing fancy, new or amazing about this dish, but, it's not a bad one to have in your stock of recipes. It might just give you the chance to enjoy the park a bit longer.

Pasta with Sausage and Red Sauce

1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, buzzed in the food processor or blender*
1 small onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 pound of Italian sausage

1 pound of short-cut pasta (penne, rotini, farfalle, shells)

Parmesan cheese, grated
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and toss with olive oil; set aside. Brown sausage in heavy-bottomed pot. Once cooked through, remove sausage from pot, reserving grease. Add onions and cook until soft and slightly browned. Add garlic and cook about 1 minute longer. Add tomatoes and stir, making sure to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Bring sauce to a low bubble and add sausage. Once combined, add pasta to pot and stir to combine. Add a handful of cheese and stir. Serve warm with additional cheese on top.

* You can use chopped tomatoes or sauce, but I generally like to start with whole tomatoes because that's where the best fruit is. Processors use the best tomatoes to can whole and then use lesser-quality for chopped and sauce products.


Ashley said...

I LOVE the green chile chicken enchilada recipe on the back of the El Paso green chile enchilada sauce can. Easy but great! This recipe sounds wonderful too, but I'd have to make it with hamburger meat for my hubby. Thanks for sharing. You always have great recipes; I need speedy dinners I can make with little effort.

Amy said...

I'll have to check out that enchilada recipe, Ashley. Indeed, fast, easy dinner recipes are always welcomed!

d.e. hovde said...

Noodles are great for quick meals. One of my fave fast meals that does not require noodle nor is casserole in nature follows:
Chicken breasts, peeled garlic cloves and cut up peeled potatoes arranged in a 9x13. Pour about a quarter cup melted butter over all and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for a half hour or so at 350, then drizzle with a bunch of honey (to taste) and bake awhile longer til chicken and potatoes are done and the garlic is ready to be mushed up by allcomers and spread on bread or the potatoes and chicken. I usually make some greens to go with.

Amy said...

Sounds good, too, Dina! Thanks.