Even when I’m super organized, and plan the week’s menu in advance, there are days,… that just go by so fast, I can’t even realize that it’s already dinner time… the kids start jumping and questioning me: “so maman? what’s for dinner tonight? at what time do we eat? you are late... you didn’t start preparing!! maAammMaAaaaan we are huuuuunnngrrryyyyy...”…
As I promised my dear friend Caroline, here is a post about the easy pasta dinners that I come up with, to satisfy my adorable-demanding kids who love pasta dinners, but with options! Since I started cooking and posting the pictures online, my busy-best-super-moms-of-the-world-friends relentlessly ask me to give them the recipes… the truth is… there are no recipes! There is a list of ingredients of course, but no specific measurements, weighs or quantities… it’s the creativity of the moment driven by the urge to make my two boys stop nagging!! hahahahaha
The first secret is to have a wide selection of short pasta of all shapes, so the kids can choose the “style” they want to have for dinner… they will feel involved, and of course might fight a little, because they never really agree on anything! hahahaha
The second secret is to have in the freezer or the fridge a good homemade pesto or tomato sauce.
Don’t forget to cook the pasta in a very well salted boiling water. It’s your only chance to season the pasta. So do it! :) When the pasta is al dente, drain it and return it to the pot it was cooked in. You can also add a little bit of butter or olive oil and gently mix the cooked pasta. It will give a very nice flavor and prevent it from sticking.
My kids adore olives or any food item that might contain some! :) So this recipe is one of their favorite… This trick calls for cooked pasta with a spoonful of tapenade. That’s it. As simple as that. With their choice of shapes… the dinner is festive and delicious! You can find very good quality tapenade, with well balanced flavors, and not too salty… or you can make your own… But we are looking for easy extremely fast recipes,… so, go buy the tapenade!!!! :)
There are some ingredients always handy in my house like heavy cream, cheese and ham in the fridge and green peas in the freezer. While the pasta is cooking, cut the ham in small strips. In a small pan, over medium-low heat, put the ham, green peas and cream. Season with salt and black pepper. You can also add a pinch of grated nutmeg if you like to. Let it cook, until the cream thickens a little bit. Drain and serve the pasta with one or two spoonfuls of the creamy sauce, sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
You can of course vary the combinations and have any kind of proteins cut in small strips or dices (that is a great way to use leftover chicken or meat).. with an easy to cook vegetable. You can also add a fresh herb like thyme, parsley etc… the concept is to have vegetables, proteins and a sauce to bind everything together, and make the pasta dinner cute and nutritious.
When I have very ripe tomatoes on hand, I make a tomato sauce, and use it as a simple pasta sauce, or as a base for a dish that requires tomato sauce. It’s so much better than the canned ones! Cook the tomatoes with onions and few garlic cloves and a little bit of water... sieve them using a food mill. That way the tomato skin will stay out of your final product. Return the tomato, onion, garlic purée/sauce to the pan. Add salt, pepper, a pinch or two of sugar (to balance the tomato acidity) and fresh herbs (basil. thyme...) and let it reduce to the desired consistency. You can store the sauce in small portions, and keep it in the freezer, until ready to use.
I shared a very good recipe for pesto. If you are newly subscribed to the newsletter and missed the pesto edition, you can send me a message. You can also subscribe today and add a note in the "comments" section.