Thursday, February 17, 2011

Improvised Bachelor's Dinner #1: "The Works" Pasta

Improvised Bachelor's Dinner #1: "The Works" Pasta
AKA "Sometimes People Need Simple, Simple Directions"
AKA "Hardly Qualifies for a Recipe"

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Ready to eat in: 25 minutes

3 quarts water (don't measure, just use enough to cover your pasta +3 inches)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. olive oil
16 oz. pasta (penne or other)

1 tsp. olive oil
1 lg. clove garlic, finely chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 lb. asparagus (~8 medium-small stalks), chopped into 1" pieces
1/2 lb. mushrooms (~5), chopped
Optional: 1/2 lb. "meat" (I recommend vegetarian chicken pieces, Quorn chicken breasts, or meatless balls [insert snickering here])
*Note: I do not cook with real meat. Go look up the safety/sanitary guidelines.
1 (one) 24 oz. can red pasta sauce
½-1 tsp. Red pepper flakes
Black pepper
Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, add water, salt, and 1 tsp. olive oil. Cover and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, chop all the veggies, and "meat" (if applicable). Add 1 tsp. olive oil to medium sauce pan on medium heat. Saute garlic and onions until tender. Add asparagus, cook for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, cook for 2 more minutes, stirring, until all are slightly tender. Add "meat", pasta sauce, red pepper flakes, and black pepper to taste. Reduce to medium-low, cover, and simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally.

Once water is at a rolling boil, remove lid and add pasta. Reduce to a slow boil, and cook 8 minutes, stirring frequently.

Important: Do *not* overcook pasta. "Al dente" = "to the tooth" = firm but not hard = NOT mushy. You know the mushy, perpetually-wet pasta buffet at school dining centers? That's not pasta. That's whatever pasta turns into after an extra 10 minutes in boiling water. Just saying.

Drain pasta and return to large pot. Toss with a little extra olive oil if desired. Pour sauce over pasta and mix thoroughly.

Serve immediately. Add Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt to taste. Serve with toast/garlic toast, and white wine or beer. (Try pilsner, Blond, amber, or wheat beers.)

Quickly eat 2-3 servings, pack the rest for the week's leftovers, rinse out the sauce pan, and promptly fall asleep.

Well done, bachelor. It looks something like this: (not my pic)


With the wife out of town for over a week, I am quickly reverting to the bachelor life: 2 large meals a day, constant snacks, ample time-wasting, and ridiculous bedtimes.

In an attempt to regain some balance, I made dinner last night. Sounds minor, but it's a big step. Just ask any unattached amateur-cook.

First things first: While I love to eat, I don't cook. I assemble dishes. Why spend the time making a soup, sauce, or dough from scratch when you can buy it pre-made and spend 20 extra minutes at (Okay, mostly joking.)

But I am, in fact, quite lazy. Hence last night's main course. Enjoy!

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