It’s an odd time – we may both pressed for time, or in lockdown and have plenty of time but no motivation. We want to eat healthy but crave more comfort food. You might be the one who decides what’s for dinner each night, and the only suggestions you get are “I don’t know” or “Takeaway”. I saw a meme recently: “Being an adult is having to decide what to cook for dinner every day until you die.” It can be like that!
Anyway, one food everyone will most likely eat is a sauce of tomatoes on pasta. It’s comforting, fast and fairly healthy. If you have a tin of tomatoes, pasta and cheese, you have a meal, so even in the barest lockdown pantry you should be able to make this. If you start the pasta water boiling you should be able to jazz up a sauce by the time the pasta is cooked and have a meal in 20 minutes. – faster than any takeaway!
But what if you are bored with it? I give you a list of healthy additions to liven it up and with the added benefit of using up vegetables that might have developed sentience in your fridge. All except a couple of suggestions are also vegan or vegetarian.
I’ve used a standard 400gm tin of crushed tomatoes, with enough pasta to feed four, however extra can be kept for leftovers. Passata or plain tinned tomatoes are usually cheaper than pasta sauce and lower in salt, fat, and sugars.
Ways to Jazz Up Pasta Sauces
- while waiting for the pasta to cook, fry a diced onion and some sliced mushrooms before adding to the sauce.
- add a different cheese such as parmesan or a vintage cheddar grated on top.
- mix crumbled feta cheese through the hot noodles before adding the sauce.
- add a variety of vegetables such as zucchini (grated or sliced thinly), beans, broccoli, cauliflower, or eggplant and cook in the sauce.
- Add leftover roast vegetables.
- Add a drained tin of beans – chickpea, kidney or four bean mix.
- Leftover vegetables like mashed pumpkin or sweet potato can be stirred through successfully.
- add different herbs, either fresh or dried such as rosemary, oregano, marjoram, parsley, or basil.
- add a clove or two of crushed garlic.
- add a sliced chilli, or ½ -1/4 teaspoon chilli powder or a drop or two of Tabasco sauce for a hot sauce.
- add fried diced bacon and a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce.
- add a tin of tuna.
- add a few sliced sun-dried tomatoes.
- try a tablespoon of pesto stirred through.
- try different noodles such as gnocchi (potato dumplings), ravioli (pasta filled with a meat or cheese mix), flavoured pastas such as herb and garlic, or corn or vegetables or different grains.
- pour in a drained tin of marinara mix and 2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
- add any leftover sliced meats.
- pour in a bit of red wine for greater depth of flavour.
- take off the heat and stir through some plain yogurt for a creamy taste.
- throw frozen vegetables such as corn, spinach and peas in with the cooking pasta.
- stir fry in water some grated or spiralized vegetables such as zucchini, carrot and capsicum and replace noodles.
- Add in some roasted capsicum.
- replace noodles with spaghetti squash.
- use sauce on baked potatoes, or baked sweet potatoes.
- Put noodles in a casserole dish, pour sauce and cheese on top and bake until golden on top.
- Use leftover sauce and pasta – mix and put in a casserole dish, then pour a basic herby white cheese sauce on top and bake for a variation of lasagna.
Cindy Tomamichel is a multi genre author, with her SMP series Druid’s Portal a time travel action adventure romance set in Roman Britain. Short stories of fantasy, scifi and romance can be found on her website, where she blogs on aspects of world building. Her latest release -The Organized Author – provides much needed help for authors trying to navigate social media and build an author platform. Doing NaNo this year? Check out her free book NaNoWriMo Ready.
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