Not My Mama’s Spaghetti


A bit of cat does add a somewhat piquant flavor to your meal…

Okay food fans, now that you’ve been exposed to the old-fashioned Mom’s Spaghetti and Sauce, here’s my modern day, eat yourself slim alternative. I am a total pasta ADDICT and I admit it. Therefore, I do not eat pasta very often. And by that I mean every chance I get. Ha! Just testing you to see if you’re paying attention…

Seriously, pasta is not a ‘bad’ food according to the Glycemic Index, rather it is all the stuff we slather it with that makes it not a weight-conscious person’s first level of eating choices. So you might want to take it easy, regardless. Personally, I limit myself to once a week (or less), and a reasonable portion.  Here’s how I do pasta, typically…aside from making couscous salad. [The biggest time element is for this recipe is cutting up the veggies…so this one makes a good work-day dinner.]

This recipe should serve at least two reasonably voracious adults. If you don’t have the majority of the fresh herbs, feel free to use dried; keep in mind you may need to adjust all quantities of spices and herbs to taste. The fresh basil, however…Oh, I must insist! 🙂

What you will need:

  • Penne regata pasta, about 16 oz
  • 1 red onion or two small shallots, diced fine
  • About 8-10 grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves
  • 1  green zucchini, cubed
  • 1 yellow zucchini, cubed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
  • About 6 oz of fresh cremini or button mushrooms, sliced moderately thick
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp fennel
  • 1/2 tsp oregano (I use dried, sorry fresh fiends)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbs  olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • Salt (I prefer kosher), to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced small, about 1/4 cup
  • Shredded parmesan cheese, to taste
  • 1-2 leaves of fresh basil, chopped fine

For the vegetables:

In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add in the onion, garlic, oregano, fennel, thyme, rosemary, bell pepper, zucchini and mushrooms. Cook until onion is soft. Add in the wine and allow it reduce until there is no alcohol scent. Add in the tomatoes and allow to soften (you can ‘kill’ them by squishing a bit as they cook if you like–I do, it helps with all that work-day resentment and aggression and emotional waxy build-up…). Season with salt (about 1/4-1/2 tsp) and freshly ground pepper. Once the zucchini is fork tender, you are ready to serve, so remove from heat, cover to keep warm and make sure that meanwhile you have managed to…

Prepare the pasta:

  • In a large pot or dutch oven, bring several quarts of salted (use about 2 tbs) water to a boil. Taste the water–if you don’t taste salt, you need to add more.
  • Once at a rolling boil, add in the pasta, and stir to separate.
  • Cook until al dente
  • As soon as pasta reaches desired state of doneness, drain into a large colander. Do NOT rinse. We only rinse our pasta if we are going to put it into a salad, yes? YES!  Bueno!
  • Once drained, pour pasta into the pan with the vegetables and toss together. You may also do this by pouring into a pasta bowl and adding the veggies on top, then tossing.
  • Add in the mozzarella cheese and toss a bit more.

Serve with a garnish of parmesan cheese and the fresh basil, and there you have it! Not My Mama’s Spaghetti–which is appropriate, since this uses penne instead. 😛


   Helpful Hint: If you want to save ‘leftover’ pasta please anoint it with a bit of olive (or other) oil and toss it to coat. This will prevent your pasta from becoming a disgusting, gooey mess in the pot as it cools, or in the fridge. To re-heat, either boil fresh water and re-cook for about 10 seconds, drain and serve, or take the easy way and warm up in the (gasp!) MICROWAVE with the lid cracked just a tad.

Bon apetit!


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