I wouldn’t call myself a “foodie,” but I do like to cook. However, there are days I have nothing planned and have no idea what to do for dinner. On these days, I borrow a move from one of my favorite cooking shows: Chopped on the Food Network. I simply open the fridge and pantry, gather some ingredients, and put together something that I think will go well together.
For a hot, Tuesday evening, this presents more of a challenge because I do not want to use the oven, nor do I want to go out in the heat to the store. In addition, I want the meal to be healthy and tasty. Tonight, I quite surprised myself with a delicious summer pasta dish without much planning or a trip to the store.
I had the following ingredients:
1 green pepper
4 Roma tomatoes
Garlic in a tube
Whole Wheat Pasta (this is a staple in our house)
Fresh herbs from my garden (dried herbs work, too)
This seemed pretty obvious to me: pasta night with a mixed salad.
Here’s how to make my version of pasta primavera:
- Set the water to boil for the pasta (I add a little salt & olive oil. My favorite pasta is Ronzoni Healthy Harvest).
- In a skillet, cover the bottom with a thin layer of olive oil (I use Pam Olive Oil).
- Chop the green pepper & eggplant into bite-sized cubes & add to the heated skillet.
- Chop the tomatoes and set aside (some people like to remove the tomato seeds, but I like to use the entire fruit).
- Stir the vegetables so they don’t burn, and add the pasta to the water when boiling.
- Cook the vegetables until they have a little bit of color; then add some garlic. You can use fresh garlic, but all I had was in a tube. (A friend of mine turned me on to the Gourmet Garden brand of finely chopped herbs in a plastic tube. This has been a lifesaver for me on many occasions. I keep ginger, garlic, and basil on hand at all times. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it.)
- Add the fresh spinach and cook until the spinach is just wilting. Remove from the heat.
- By now, the pasta should be done, so drain it and put it back in the pan.
- Here’s the important part: add a touch of extra virgin olive oil to the pasta so it won’t stick together.
- Then add the cooked vegetables to the pasta with the cut tomatoes. Reserve some of the tomatoes for the salad.
- Serve with fresh parmesan cheese and fresh cut herbs from the garden (I used basil, oregano, & thyme).
According to My Fitness Pal.com, this is the nutritional information for the pasta dish:
The cucumber and radishes went into the salad greens with some sunflower seeds I found tucked in the back of the pantry. If I had planned this dish, I would add mushrooms and zucchini and omit the eggplant. I rarely use eggplant; it just happened that I had some left over from making eggplant lasagna last week.
You don’t have to follow my recipe exactly. With a little creativity and some basic ingredients, you can do the same thing: mix together some vegetables with some pasta or rice, or even potatoes, and you have a healthy, vegetarian meal without much hassle. Try canned or frozen vegetables if you don’t have fresh, and if you have some pasta sauce, you can add that to the mix.