Sunday, May 11, 2014

Healthifying my Pasta nights

Pasta has been my go-to solution to the constant "what should we have for supper" that comes up when there's hardly any time to think or prepare food.

Way back when, we bought the cheapest white pasta we could find (think Stop & Shop pasta on sale for the now unheard of 5 boxes for $1!! I still remember lugging that pasta home from the supermarket every time that sale came up, a young wife and mother and full time student just trying to stay afloat and keep everyone fed...) Now, we live in Israel, where even cheap white pasta is not so cheap, and we've long since moved on to whole wheat pastas. We've taste tested a lot of whole wheat pastas, focusing on finding the best one among the affordable options. In America, I tended to buy the Whole Foods brand pastas (stocked up when they were on sale) and one or two shapes from Target, but WF was far better. Now, we've tried lots of kinds here in Israel, the cheapest being the Taaman brand, but it's not so good. So now, I buy mine from Nizat HaDuvdevan for about 6.50 shekels for a 500g bag (roughly 1 lb), which is not bad for a relatively high quality pasta (and it's organic even though I didn't need it be).

In the past, I'd opted to make my own sauce using tomato paste or crushed tomatoes and spices over buying prepared sauce (although in America, I'd buy good sauces on sale and with coupons. I still miss that convenience). Lately I've decided to kick the sauce up a notch. It can be made in advance and stored in the fridge to be heated as necessary. Mine never sits in the fridge more than a few days, so I can't say how long it lasts, but I'd freeze it if I wasn't using in the next 3 days.

Homemade chunky tomato sauce

olive oil
cut vegetables - whatever you have that you have or what you think will work: onions, celery, peppers, eggplant, summer squash (kishuim), tomatoes, mushrooms, etc
tomato paste or crushed tomatoes (packaged or homemade)
fresh or dried basil (fresh is best!)
chopped garlic (fresh is best!)
seasonings to taste - salt, black pepper, and any others you want to add like oregano or rosemary or thyme...

Heat olive oil is a large sauce pot. Add vegetables and stir till they are soft and fragrant. Add garlic and continue stirring for a few minutes. Add tomato paste/crushed tomatoes, water, fresh basil and seasonings, and stir well. Continue to stir occasionally while you bring it all to a boil, then lower the flame and simmer for a while. Serve over pasta and garnish with your favorite cheese if you like.

I will admit that this has not come without objections from my family. They prefer when I don't do anything "funny" to their food, but I figured they'd get used to it and eventually come to appreciate it.

This was the first week that only one child objected to all the vegetables in the pasta, so that is major progress, in my opinion!

I serve this supper with a make-your own salad, as well. 

What's your go-to quick, sort of healthy supper?

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