* I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central for the National Pasta Association. I received pasta samples and a stipend to facilitate the creation of pasta recipes as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
If you are like me, the last thing you want to do after a long day is go grocery shopping, or spend hours in the kitchen preparing a meal (and making a mess to clean up after!). As the holidays approach, it is even more important to have delicious, healthy meals that don’t require a scavenger hunt in the grocery store or a huge time investment. Pasta is the perfect solution! It is friendly on your wallet, and if your kids are like mine, pasta is ALWAYS a crowd-pleaser.
While there are lots of recipes out there, Pasta Fits is one of the best websites out there when it comes to teaching about pasta and serving up some seriously yummy recipes. Pasta Fits is an educational resource sponsored by the National Pasta Association, and is a great place to learn all about pasta as well as find some tasty meals to cook for your family.
I was inspired to create a meal that would not only be meatless (check out Pasta Fits’ article on why Meatless Monday is awesome!) but also be hearty enough for dinner, could double as a yummy holiday side dish, and would require minimal items that weren’t already in my pantry. Thus was born, as my youngest has named it, Rainbow Pasta Arrabbiata!
Almost all of the items I needed were already in my pantry! I did have to pop into the store for some fresh basil and lemon, but everything else was all ready to go! Chances are, with a little creativity, you can find a fast and simple pasta dish in your own pantry. Pasta is the perfect canvas for the veggies and lean proteins that you probably already have in your fridge as well. We also love pasta in my home because it is easy to create dairy-free recipes (my youngest has a food allergy) that are nutritious and provide complex carbohydrates to fuel growing muscles.
Rainbow Pasta Arrabiatta is super easy. I used my food processor to mince 6 large garlic cloves, puree some organic diced tomatoes (you can use canned tomato sauce as well), and mince 1/2 of a lemon (yep, just throw it in there and grind it up). If you don’t have a food processor, just mince your garlic by hand and zest one whole lemon.
Begin boiling your water for your pasta first thing. Then you won’t have to watch that pot! Start your sauce by heating up 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, and sauteeing your garlic and about a teaspoon of red pepper flakes. This puts the “arrabbiata” in your pasta. Arrabbiata means “angry” in Italian and this spicy recipe can go as hot as you want. After your garlic is fragrant, add your tomatoes and lemon zest. Stir it up!
At this point, you will want to start tasting and seasoning. Your sauce will definitely need salt and pepper, but you may also want to add some garlic salt, onion powder, or some more red pepper to spice things up!
Cover your sauce partially, stirring and tasting every now and then. Start your pasta (we cook a full box of tricolored penne to feed my family). Simmer your sauce about 15 minutes until it is reduced to be nice and thick. Combine your pasta with your sauce, and add about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and about 1/3 cup of chopped fresh basil. Garnish with a few basil leaves, and voila! You have a fast, easy, and very budget friendly meal that your whole family will love!
Make sure to check out Pasta Fits to find many more recipes that you can incorporate into your holiday meals, and stick around because their site is full of nutritional information, facts about pasta, and even general cooking tips! And don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and Pinterest for even more yummy recipes!