Pasta is by far my favorite food. Anytime anyone wants pasta I am more than willing to come up with an idea. Right now in my life I am not eating meat so adding something to replace the meat is always my search. My favorite lesson in cooking that I learned in Italy was in the homes of all the people that I spent my time with. Pasta is what Italy is known for, and I learned it’s the love that people put into their dishes is what makes it so good. Pasta in your home is putting anything and everything you have lying around. The difference is the people in Italy always have some sort of tomato product, garlic, table cream, some sort of cheese, cured meats, and other vegetables.
Last night I made a simple veggie marinara sauce. I half a sweet onion, 3 cloves of garlic, half of a green pepper, 4 mushrooms, and 4 leaves of fresh basil and sautéed those up. I added a large can of organic diced tomatoes and let it simmer. I than used my immersion blender to blend all these ingredients up and made a smooth sauce. The immersion blender is honest to god the best creation and replacement for a blender. You can make any sort of sauce, soup, chop up nuts and not have to dirty a separate pan! Than I chopped up the other half of the bell pepper, onion and 6 mushrooms very small and I caramelized those in a separate pot. You always want to add some salt and pepper and if I had a small can of diced tomatoes I would have added them to the smooth sauce with the caramelized veggies to give it some more texture. The sauce was great, not too many herbs and all the flavors blended together than with extra veggies to enhance it.
When I was in Italy I learned it’s not necessarily what you put into the pasta but who you are sharing the pasta with. And one critiscm any Italian has the right to dish out is if the pasta is more cooked than al dente. I agree. Unfortunately my “dinner guest” doesn’t like the tiny crunch in the pasta that me and so many Italian truly appreciate so I am stuck cooking it a minute or two longer…. I try to get away with al dente as frequently as possible but generally I get “Next time Dana, you should could the pasta a little bit longer.”