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.