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?


Rebel In Ontario said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rebel In Ontario said...

Sorry, had to delete the last one! Too early in the morning to be posting and it didn't make any sense when I re-read it!
Right now it depends on what I'm making how long it will take me, but because I'm currently a SAHM it could take me all day if I wanted! Now, when I was working full-time and creating menu's etc., 30-45 minutes for dinner to be on the table after I was home. Some nights were faster if it was a slopcooker meal but then, some time would have been spent in the morning doing the prep work.

Rebel In Ontario said...

DEAR LORD, I need to start using the preview feature before posting...I now use a slopcooker instead of a slowcooker LOL! Oh well, live and learn.

Unknown said...

Hands on time, maybe 30 minutes or less; however, I might have cooking time where I'm not standing over the dish. I don't usually make many individual meals. I make one and use it throughout the week. Might supplement with fish or eggs one night with oatmeal or something else thrown in there for a quickie on Wednesdays (church night!).

DancesInGarden said...

I can usually have dinner on the table in about half an hour if it is something DH and DD like. If it is something I like it takes about an hour total.

ThursdayNext said...

I usually take around 40 minutes, but it depends on the week. If I am off from school, I like to spend a little more time. :)

This pasta dish looks delish. I have been loving lately a recipe with spinich fettucine, diced ham, and just some shaved parm and romano...so good.

Anonymous said...

this looks really good, i'm going to try it tonight,i have a ton of fresh sweet basil in my garden i need to use so i'll probably add a cup of that,kay

Anonymous said...

I spend anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour making dinner on a weeknight. It usually depends on how late I have to work.

The photo in your post reminded me of one of my favorite pasta dishes, Pasta with Kielbasa and Sauerkraut. It kinda sounds weird, but it's really good. I made it last night and had leftovers for lunch today.