Roasted Veggie Pasta

After coming back from Europe, my stomach needed a serious break from heavy food.  So, I went in search of a recipe with roasted veggies, whole grains, and no meat and came across this.  Perfect weekday meal.  Would have been even better with a crisp wine.

I love any excuse to go to this fruit/vegetable store called The Vegetable Bin in Charleston – awesome produce and even better prices. This recipe has fresh asparagus, zucchini, onion, garlic, and basil.  It calls for the use of canned tomatoes, which i think helps make the sauce “sauce-ier.”  But I’m sure roasting fresh tomatoes would make this recipe even better.  Add whole wheat pasta and a little bit of freshly grated pecorino, and you have a delicious, easy meal.  (If you want to make this vegan, I ate leftovers without cheese, and I didn’t even miss it.)  After eating this, my husband declared, “You are the master at pastas.”  Pretty good compliment for something without a lot of fat, or even meat.

Roasted Veggie Pasta

  • 2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick (try to slice to the thickness of the asparagus, so they will cook uniformly)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper, and Italian seasoning
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28 -ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 12 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, toss the zucchini and asparagus with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes.


Heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 more seconds. Increase the heat to medium high, add the tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.  Season to taste, adding salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.


Meanwhile, add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and add to the skillet with the sauce. Add the roasted vegetables and the reserved cooking water; toss to combine.  Finally, stir in the cheese and basil.



When serving, top with additional cheese (and red pepper flakes for us!) if desired.



Aglio e Olio Pasta

And the pasta train continues…  I can NOT resist Rio Bertolini’s Fresh Pasta, the fresh pasta station at the Charleston Farmer’s Market, as you can tell by all my pasta posts.  They have everything an Italian-at-heart could want – pizza dough, flavored pastas, lasagna, ravioli with various stuffings, a few kinds of gnocchi, flavored butters, gelato, and more.

This time, I bought porcini ravioli.  So, I had to go on a search for a basic sauce for it.  Something that wouldn’t require me to go to the grocery.  Again, Ina to the rescue.  Aglio e Olio sauce – aka garlic and oil sauce.  It was perfect on the ravioli.  Feel free to use any type of pasta with this sauce.  I halved the recipe for my ravioli for two.

Aglio E Olio Pasta

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound favorite pasta
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 8 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I used more, but we like spice)
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package.  Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a pot large enough to hold the pasta.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until garlic begins to turn golden on the edges – don’t burn it!  Carefully add the reserved pasta water to the garlic and oil and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by about a third.  (This is half the salt Ina calls for – I found it overly salty.  Feel free to add more salt at the end if you think it needs more.)  Remove the pot from heat and add the parsley and parmesan.


Add the drained pasta immediately and toss to combine.  Allow the pasta to rest off the heat for 5 minutes before serving for the sauce to be absorbed. Taste for seasoning and serve warm with extra Parmesan on top.


Basic Marinara Sauce

So I still have a lot of leftover pasta (in different flavors) from the Farmer’s Market.  I wanted to make a basic sauce that I could refrigerate for the week and serve with the different pastas, varying it up with different proteins and such.  So I went on a search for a basic marinara sauce.  I stumbled upon Ina Garten’s recipe, and she’s kind of my go-to chef for the basics, so I went with this one.  I varied it slightly with what I had in my pantry.  But, that’s the greatest thing about this recipe.  Use it as a base, and add what you have on hand – any type of wine (red or white), add basil or oregano or red pepper flakes, use various types of canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes, etc…  I do recommend doubling or even tripling this recipe and freezing leftover sauce – I wish I had done that.

Basic Marinara Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used a sauvignon blanc)
  • 28 ounces canned whole peeled tomatoes (use San Marzano if available, low sodium so you can control salt) – if you don’t have an immersion hand blender, chop up tomatoes coarsely.
  • 1 or 1.5 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a medium sized pot.  Add the onion and heat until onions are translucent, around 5 mins.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute – don’t burn.  Add the wine and cook on high heat until almost all liquid evaporates, around 3 minutes, while scraping all brown pits in the pot.  Stir in the tomatoes.  Use an immersion blender sparingly to chop up the tomatoes – you don’t want to turn your marinara into soup, so keep it a litttttle bit chunky, like so – before and after:


Next, stir in parsley, salt, and pepper.  Cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.   Season more to taste.  At this point, it can be eaten.  But, the longer the sauce sits on low, the better it’ll taste.  If you have the time, let your sauce simmer on low for an hour or two or three…

Serve it as you like!  I put my sauce over squid ink pasta and added grilled shrimp and red pepper flakes.  I served it with my homemade bread to catch all the sauce!  It was seriously yummy.


For the next pasta meal, I think I’ll add a touch of cream to the marinara and serve it over the black pepper pasta.  Have fun and be creative!

Cacio e Pepe

Ok I have another super simple basic pasta recipe.  If you caught my Cheesy Garlic Pasta post, you’ll notice a trend.  I like cheese.  I promise I make things other than pasta, but it’s such an easy cheap meal to make.  And these pastas are like a hug in your tummy.  Kind of my version of mac and cheese.  Also, I needed to use up some of the pasta I bought at the Farmer’s Market.


This pasta is bucatini – similar to spaghetti but with a hole running through the center to give it an extra bite.  Another similar pasta is pici pasta.  When I showed my brother Jimmy a picture of my pasta, he replied with, “You are making cacio e pepe, huh?”  See how well he knows me?  We had this pasta when we were in Italy with the family.. By family, I mean the extended Jones family, around 20 of us.  Quite the adventure!  I fell in love with this simple cheese and pepper pasta.

Ok, first I will get all Ina Garten on your butt (whom I love, but is ridiculous about requiring only the BEST ingredients).  You MUST use freshly ground black pepper and good cheese (parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano – or both).  So do not use pre-ground black pepper in that McCormick spice container or that waxy cheese in the shaker that I’m pretty sure doesn’t even require refrigeration.  🙂

Cacio e Pepe – originally from  Serves around 3 (depending if you have a side), but it’s really easy to adjust. I divided the recipe when making it just for Geoff and me and served with sauteed veggies.

  • 3/4 pound of spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • a bit of the pasta cooking liquid (just save some of it in a cup and set aside after boiling pasta)
  • Cheese – 1 cup.  Can be 1 c. of pecorino or 1 c. of parmigiano or 1/2 c. of each.  This time I went with 1 c. of the pecorino, but I switch it up depending on what I have

First, boil your spaghetti until al dente.  Remember to reserve some liquid from pasta before draining.  After draining, return your (now empty) pot to the pan.  Try to keep the pasta warm in the meantime. On low-medium heat, add butter, oil, and half the pepper.  Let butter melt.

Add a bit of the cooking liquid to the pot and swirl the pot.  Start by adding a little cooking liquid (around 1/2 c) – you can add more later if the pasta is too thick.  Put the heat on low and add the spaghetti and toss just until warm – you don’t want to overcook your pasta.

Next, turn the heat off.  Add all the cheese and the rest of the pepper and toss the spaghetti again in the pot.  Plate the pasta, garnishing with a little extra grated cheese and grated pepper, if desired.  I’ll take any excuse to add more cheese.



Cheesy Garlic Pasta

I made my go-to pasta tonight.  Actually, it’s my go-to dish.  You know, the dish that usually doesn’t require you to go to the grocery, is easily adaptable, is quick and easy, and – of course – is delicious.  I have never complained that a dish is either too cheesy or too garlicky.  This dish stars these two delicious ingredients.  I serve this dish with a simple veggie side.

I found the original recipe on Pinterest.  This is the original link.

Besides how yummy this pasta is, my favorite things about it are: minimal dish cleaning and minimal prep.  This pasta is a one pot dish.  Yes, the pasta cooks in chicken stock until the stock has evaporated.  No draining pasta and cleaning extra dishes!  Also, cooking the pasta in chicken stock gives it a richer flavor than cooking it in water.  As for preparation, I hate having to chop things forever before even beginning to cook.  Here, you chop garlic and parsley – otherwise, the ingredients are ready-to-cook, as is.

Here is the recipe!

Cheesy Garlic Pasta

  • 2 t. olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T. butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • ½ lb spaghetti
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley

In a stockpot, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat.  Add the minced garlic and stir until aromatic.  Don’t burn the garlic!  Next, mix in the butter until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste – keep in mind you are adding a lot of salty cheese in later, so don’t oversalt.  You can always salt more later if needed.  Add the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.

Once the mixture is at a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente.  By the time the pasta is at this stage, most or all of the stock should have evaporated.  If the stock evaporates before the pasta is done, simply add more stock (or even water if you have no more stock).

Once the pasta is done, reduce the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese until melted.  Then, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cream and parsley.  The original recipe called for 3/4 c of cream, so feel free to add more.  I think all that cream takes the focus from the garlic.

Next, scarf down this pasta.  We like to add a healthy dose of red pepper flakes for some kick but this is optional.


Another thing I love about this dish is how adaptable it is.  You can use chicken broth if that’s all you have –  even vegetable broth or stock is fine.  Water would take some richness out of the dish, but that could be acceptable as well.  Oftentimes, I don’t have heavy cream, so I will just add a heavy dash of whatever dairy is on hand, like milk or half and half.  If you don’t have parsley, no worries – it’s still delicious, though less colorful.