Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Shakey execution, solid finish
Pasta with Sweet Peppers and Ham
Prevention's Ultimate Quick & Healthy Cookbook Copyright 1998
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large red bell peppers, coarsely diced
l large onion, coarsely diced I used about 1/2 of a large sweet onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano Oops! I forgot this
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 ounces boiled ham, diced I used 8 ounces
1/2 cup defatted low-sodium chicken broth I used more
8 ounces penne pasta I used the entire box of Dreamfields
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated I didn't measure this
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/8 teaspoon freshly groun black pepper
1) Bring a a large covered pot of water to a boil over high heat.
2) Meanwhile in a medium sauce pan over high heat, warm oil until very hot but not smoking. Add bell peppers, onions, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Sauté, stirring, for 2 -3 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften and relase their juices. Stir in the ham, then add3 tablespoons of broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 8 - 9 minutes, or until vegetables are very tender. If the pan gets too dry, add another tablespoon of broth.
3) Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water, return to a boil and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or according to package directions until al dente. Reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid, drain the pasta in a colander and transfer to a warmed serving bowl.
4) Add the remaining broth and reserved pasta liquid (I forgot to reserve the liquid so I added more broth) to the vegetable mixture. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes, until liquid is reduced slightly.
4) Pour sauce over pasta. Add parmesan, parsley, and black pepper. Toss to coat well and serve.
I took a few liberties with this dish, some on purpose and some accidentally. I added more ham and pasta to stretch it (I have leftovers for lunch!), I used less onion because I needed to save some for tonight's recipe, I used more chicken broth because I forgot to reserve the pasta liquid and I forgot the oregano. It's really a simple dish to prepare but I was trying to do too many things at once (make this pasta, make a salad, make the dressing, make cheese bread). No harm done - the result was good.
I liked the 'light' sauce on the pasta. It's funny to think that growing up, the only thing that we put on pasta when it was the main course was spaghetti sauce. It's so versatile and it doesn't need to be drenched in a heavy sauce.
It feels so good to be cooking and eating home-cooked meals again. I can't wait to plan next week's recipes tonight. I hope some of my new cookbook arrive today. Don't ask me how many I'm waiting for - I'm too ashamed to say. It's a sickness.
Question of the Day: How much time to you generally spend preparing a weeknight dinner?