Friday, September 9, 2011

My Mom's Go-To Pasta Dish

I bet most of you have a go-to pasta dish that you have in rotation already. I've talked a bit about mine, in my post about Italian Ingredients You Gotta Have Handy, which actually is for more than just one go-to meal. It's great for salad, pizza, pasta salad, crostini, baked chicken dishes... If you haven't checked that out and you want a new foundation for endless possibilities, you should. Many of you probably already have a lot of it on hand. I tend to make my go-to pasta dish with artichokes, spinach and some food processed sauce - olives, sun dried tomatoes or peppers, letting that simmer with herbs, tomatoes and water until it's nice and juicy. 

But, there are other ways. Another that I know of is my mom's classic. Most of my flavor inspiration comes from my mom. She is an amazing cook and has always made healthy, gourmet-style food for the family. I didn't appreciate it enough as a child, but now (obviously) I am forever indebted to her for introducing me to good food. When I'm testing out a new concept or playing with different flavor profiles, I tend to call my mom every 5 to 15 minutes with a technical support question. Whether I need to know if something will work out on the chemistry side of things or if two flavors would compliment each other, she's there to talk me through it.

Now that I have my own family to feed, I don't get her cooking often. But, we were at the cabin this weekend with her and my dad and she made us her go-to pasta dish and I just had to snap a picture and let you all know how she does it. My friends and I chowed it down this winter when we went up north to visit and it was a huge hit. So, I knew I had to share, even if it is another simple recipe. I happen to think simple is best, and it still has a big payoff, so why work harder for something fancy? Plus, these Elk Shaped Pasta Noodles fancy it up enough, don't you think?

My Mom's Go-To Pasta Dish

You Will Need:
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • Frying Pan
  • 2 Sauce Pans
  • Prepared Pasta Noodles
  • Prepared Pasta Sauce (pre-made sauce, keep it simple or make your own if you have stuff on hand)
  • Prepared Italian Sausage (if you so choose, this is shown without, but it's very good with)
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 Eggplant (this is shown without, but often she does it with and if you're omitting the meat, you might as well add in more veggies!)
  • 1 Pint Portobello Mushrooms
  • Handful Basil
  • 1 Tablespoon Herbs de Provence
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons EVOO 
  1. Chop the vegetables, basil and garlic
  2. Heat pan on medium, add oil 
  3. If using eggplant, heat 1/3 cup EVOO and saute and set aside
  4. Add onions and garlic
  5. Stir occasionally for 10 minutes, until tender
  6. Add mushrooms and herbs, cooking for 5 minutes
  7. Add peppers, cooking for 5 minutes
  8. During that time, cook sausage according to the package and boil water and cook pasta
  9. Heat pasta sauce
What are your go-to recipes? Do you have a go-to pasta dish? If so, I hope you share!


  1. When you have a moment, you might want to read a blog entry I made about my family's pasta sauce six years ago:

    After rereading it myself, there are a few adjustments I'd make, but that's pasta sauce for you. Always evolving.

  2. Thanks for sharing! Spaghetti sauce is one of those things that I just pull together randomly, I have no idea what I use other than tomatoes and pepper :)

  3. I make a go-to dish without pasta, if that counts.

    Saute a couple of chopped cloves of garlic in olive oil. You could also add some onion here, but I am lazy. Dump in a can of good diced tomatoes, add cracked pepper, fresh basil, and any other herbs you fancy. Let simmer for awhile. When you're ready to eat, top with a slice or 2 of provolone and take off heat when it's melty.

    It's like super fast tomato soup, and it's delicious.

  4. Sounds super good! I have a go-to meal in every genre of food. I will definitely add yours to the roster, Cressa would loove it.

  5. I always make pasta salad. I love it. Your pasta is adorable, the dish looks delicious!

  6. Looks super easy and healthy! A quick meal is always a good choice!