Pasta….Conqueror or Conquered?

If you just want a recipe to make pasta, I would suggest you skip to the ingredient list below, otherwise read at your own risk

While I have forayed into the realm of pasta before, (especially macaroni), I could never claim that I have entered it until before yesterday; I went in with my guns blazing.

It was about 10pm and I had nothing to eat all day, (ie I was starving, that probably how I always start my food blogs 🙂 ). Initially I thought that I did not have anything in the fridge, I was out of bread, most vegetables, cheese and so on. I knew that I had pasta and rice, and that was a building block I could start on.

Before I continue on, let me talk about what I constitute as a meal. For a meal to be fulfilling, nutritious and enjoyable it must consist of three items. First every meal must have what I call a building block, which means that every meal needs to consist of either rice, bread or pasta (note cereal is an interesting case). Second, each meal must have some sort of sauce that maintains the water level of the food (so it’s not too dry), and gives flavor to the food. Lastly each meal must have vegetables and meat (if possible), these items give the meal its texture, color, aroma, support the sauce and add flavor to the meal. Where and how did I come with the above, I just made it up based on what I consider experience but my father calls meddling with food too much. Actually if you noticed the above construct is missing a major food type; beans/peas which I have not had a chance to explore yet. Also, you will find many dishes that are exceptions to the above meal construct, but many more follow it whether bread (sandwiches) pasta or rice.

Back to the kitchen, I start by trying to think of the easiest way to feed myself. Sadly I considered making eggs to much of an effort and end up constructing a meal from scratch. The way I construct a meal, is that I try to decide what base do I want to build it on (rice, pasta or bread), Then I ask what flavor/sauce I want (spicy, tomato sauce, creamy sauce, etc) and based on the information above I start narrowing down the vegetables and the meats I will be using based on what color, texture and complementary flavor I want to make.

Before I go on to make the meal, I have just one more principle that I follow regarding meals. A dish can only be made with the ingredients currently available in the kitchen; I will never go to the store just to buy ingredients for the dish I want make today. This means I have to make my meal under the constraints of what I have in the kitchen (this is actually very fun to do and leads to creativity and innovation) and if I want a particular dish, then I just have to plan ahead. Of course, this also meant that I got my sister angry on many occasions.

Okay back to the kitchen, I had a raging debate between pasta and rice with rice having the upper hand until I chose pasta (Conchiglie or seashell shaped pasta). As I started the pasta on the stove and then focused my attention to my sauce. I wanted something with tomato sauce, slightly spicy but not overwhelming and something that utilizes any remaining vegetables. Initially I was very conflicted about meat, because I only had canned tuna and that did not sound appetizing, but luckily I remembered that I had two frozen breaded chicken patties, which I promptly defrosted and diced. I also found a lonely half onion in the fridge, which I also diced and threw it with the meat in a pan with olive oil to fry and added some minced garlic, Italian dressing,  salt and pepper for flavor. The only other vegetables I had were celery and sweet peppers (a gift from someone’s garden) and I had a lot of them. I decided I might as well utilize both and used the celery for texture (crunchy) and the sweet peppers for color (green and red ones).  Both were diced and I added them after the onions and meats were properly fried. I let them fry for a bit longer and then added hot sauce (liquid crushed pepper), and mixed some more. I then found a used can tomato paste with only a third left and that made my day. I added it to the mixture and then added a cup of water. I boiled the sauce for a few minutes and then let it simmer for a few more minutes until the pasta was ready. After draining the water from the pasta, I mixed the sauce with it and to top it off I added the remains of grated cheese used for spaghetti a couple of days earlier and finally I served it and ended up eating a bit too much. The whole meal took about 15 minutes.

While, I might be biased when I tell you that it was delicious, at least I can also tell you that a roommate of mine who beforehand told me he was not very hungry ended up eating three plates of pasta!

To recap here is the ingredient list and a more straight-forward set of directions if you ever plan on making it.

½ onion

2 sweet peppers (each about 5inches long)

2 celery stalks

2 table spoons of liquid crushed red peppers

1 tea spoon of minced garlic

Salt and pepper

1/3 can of tomato paste

1 box of pasta (1 pound)

2 patties of chicken

Olive oil

1 cup of water

½ cup of grated cheese

Italian Dressing

  1. Prepare pasta according to instructions on box (boil water, add pasta, mix occasionally for 8-10 minutes and drain)
  2. Dice onion, sweet peppers, celery stalks and chicken
  3. Fry diced chicken,  onion and minced garlic in olive oil and add Italian dressing, salt and pepper to taste
  4. After chicken cooks and onion appear sautéed add sweet peppers and celery stalks, mix and fry for a couple more minutes
  5. Add hot sauce and let it mix for one more minute then add tomato paste, mix and add water.
  6. Let sauce boil for a couple of minutes and then let it simmer until pasta is done.
  7. After pasta is drained, place pasta in serving bowl and add the sauce on top of the pasta and mix until all pasta is covered with sauce
  8. Sprinkle grated cheese on top of pasta and serve.

Enjoy and make sure to utilize ingredients you have in your kitchen.


2 responses

  1. You know, you should start taking pictures of the foods you make. So people could have an idea of how it should look like.

    1. Excellent Idea will do in the future

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