STORY BY MEAGAN CAMP
Pasta is my go-to dinner idea. I find endless ways to take whatever pasta shape I have in my pantry and pull out the odds and ends in my refrigerator and make a cohesive, thoughtful and satisfying dinner – or lunch the next day. The key to staying away from the jars of sauce at the grocery story, which are always too expensive, is to know how to substitute and season your sauce. Once you start to experiment, you just might find your new signature sauce.
If you only used half of the can of pumpkin and need to use the rest, whip up this pasta sauce and freeze it for a quick weeknight meal. Pour over fresh pasta or layer it with eggplant for a new style of lasagna.
1 Medium Onion, sliced
2 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
1 28oz. can of fire roasted tomatoes
1 14oz. can of pumpkin puree
1 t Dried Oregano
1/4 t Nutmeg, ground
1 t Red Chili Flakes (optional)
- Heat a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, drop a small slice of onion in oil to see if it is ready, add the onion and saute for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt and saute for another minute.
- Add tomato and pumpkin to the pan and stir to combine. Keep the sauce at a simmer so it doesn’t burn.
- Add the herbs and chili flakes along with salt and pepper. Taste along the way to get the flavor just the way you like it.
- Either serve right away with any shape pasta or freeze and use when you need it.
Tip: If you want to amp up the pumpkin flavor, add in the more savory spices found in pumpkin spice like cinnamon and clove. You can always balance it out by adding more red chili flakes.
Pesto is more than just that bright herbal sauce that we all know so well. I look at Pesto as a true method for using up bits and pieces in your refrigerator and blending them together to make a flavorful fresh sauce that I use to marinate meat or fish, toss on a salad, use as a spread on bread for a sandwich. The concept is that you use raw ingredients and blend them together with olive oil to create a smooth sauce. The basic combination is a leafy green, nuts, a hard cheese, lemon and garlic.
4 Cups of Basil – or Leafy Green like Spinach or Arugula
1-2 Cloves of Garlic (to your taste)
¼ C Parmesan Cheese – other hard cheese
½ C Pine Nuts – or Walnuts, Pecans, Almonds
½ Lemon, juiced
¼ – ½ C Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Honey or Agave to taste
- In a food processor or strong blender, add all of your ingredients in and start to blend adding in olive oil until you get the consistency you want. If you are making a pasta sauce, leave it a bit thicker and add in ¼ – ½ C of pasta water to it when you mix with the pasta. If you are making a marinade, add a bit of extra oil so it coats whatever you are marinating.
- After you taste your pesto, ask yourself if it is too bitter and add in 1 teaspoon of honey or agave to balance the sauce. Don’t worry, it won’t make the sauce sweet!
This sauce was a complete accident and I’m a big fan of happy accidents. I needed to make a quick, under 20 minutes, flavorful sauce and I didn’t want it to be a thick tomato sauce. This is perfect for the summer or for mixing with vegetable noodles.
1 Pint of Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
1 14oz Can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes
2-3 Cloves of Garlic, sliced
Red Chili Flakes
Extra herbs you have on hand
- In a saute pan, pour 1 tablespoon olive oil and add in cherry tomatoes when the oil is hot. Cook the tomatoes for 4-5 minutes until they begin to color.
- Add slices of garlic and cook until they start to brown in the olive oil. Add in the canned tomatoes and stir to combine.
- Cook until the cherry tomatoes start to pop and then stir in any fresh herbs and the red chili flakes. Salt and pepper to your taste, but if the tomatoes are good you shouldn’t have to add very much.