Most of us are on a quest to eat healthier nowadays. I’ve personally been on a quest to eat more fresh vegetables. I guess I see it as a trial run for which ones I enjoy the most, and in turn which ones I will be planting in my garden this year. Not to mention, it is helping me with becoming a healthier version of myself.
Now, we don’t have a huge lot that our home is on, as it is your typical subdivision layout. In fact, I will be pushed to create an ample size garden (for the record, I have tried to find one of those HGTV shows to come out, but no one local to here…so sad). This kind of project would require a professional landscaper, and we just don’t have the funds for that. Last year, I had a small garden below the dining room bay window. We had 4 different varieties of peppers, Rosemary and Cilantro…quite small indeed. This coming up season, I plan to have a couple varieties of tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, red, yellow, and orange bell peppers (because they can be so expensive in the grocery store), green bell peppers, squash, green beans (maybe, I’m still pondering on this one), and garlic (that one could be interesting). I will be keeping the Cilantro indoors this year, because last year our Summer heat killed it rather quickly. It will make a nice dining room table centerpiece (more on that when I do it).
Needless to say, I love to cook with fresh items in the kitchen. I was inspired last night by reading through the Consumer Reports: Food and Nutrition issue. I saw this dish of spaghetti noodles, tossed with cherry tomatoes, green peppers, a little olive oil, and fresh garlic. It looked soooooo good! I immediately began to put things together that I had in my own cabinet to recreate this dish the best I could (with some additions). I pulled out an onion, a green pepper, fresh white mushrooms, garlic cloves, and when I went to the pantry hoping to pull out a can of diced tomatoes (no fresh in the house…I just find it hard to buy off-season tomatoes from the grocery store)….all I had was a small can of tomato sauce. Oh well, it worked perfectly! After a little seasoning, sautéing and simmering, I had created a restaurant-worthy dish. I encourage you to try the below recipe.
Seasonings: I have fallen in love with Smoked Paprika. So, you will see it added in this recipe. I enjoy that light, subtle, smoky flavor in a few of my dishes. Also, when you use it in dishes, it creates a nice, warm, red undertone. I highly recommend this seasoning. It’s very versatile…Add Smoked Paprika to your meat rubs, put it in soups or sauces, add it to chicken dishes, etc.
- Spaghetti Noodles or your preferred noodle (I never measure how many noodles I use, because I like to freeze the leftovers for an easy pull-out preparation next time)
- 1 small can (around 4 oz. I believe) of tomato sauce, not paste
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1 green bell pepper
- 6 whole white mushrooms (or however many you prefer, I probably would add more next time I make this)
- 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- 2 teaspoons of Smoked Paprika
- 1 teaspoon of chopped Basil
- 1 teaspoon of Red Cayenne Pepper
- 1 teaspoon of Sea Salt (or regular salt to taste…this isn’t necessary if you don’t use salt in your dishes)
- Chop all vegetables up in chunky pieces. You can chop them finer if you prefer, I wanted something I could bite into.
- Combine vegetables, the EVOO, and the seasonings in your pan and sauté until everything just starts to soften. I didn’t turn mine to mush, so there was some nice texture left.
- Meanwhile, cook your noodles according to the directions on the box. *A tip to great tasting noodles, is to heavily salt your water you are boiling them in. Or, if you’re going for no salt, just add some EVOO (a tablespoon) into the water as well to keep the noodles from sticking together. This works, I promise. Either way, always add the EVOO.
- After your vegetables are the way you want them, add the can of tomato sauce. Toss until all vegetables are coated in the tomato sauce.
- Add your cooked noodles to the pan of vegetables and toss to coat. Allow to simmer in the sauce for 5 minutes.
- A little trick I learned, and I believe this may have enhanced the dish…Right before plating, add a splash of EVOO to the pan and toss to coat. It adds a nice touch.
We didn’t feel like we had to have a meat in the end, but I had bought some cubed steak that needed to be eaten, so we had that with the pasta. I just prepared it in my grill pan with a little Adobo seasoning on both sides. Very tasty!