As a vegetarian, it can be hard to find any decent variety of options at chain restaurants. Fettuccine alfredo? Maybe when I was 6, but now I try to avoid it. Pasta with marinara? Not so exciting. The kids’ menu might offer a grilled cheese sandwich to give you 3 whole choices.
When I go to a friend or family member’s house for dinner, they often make the effort to accommodate me – which I appreciate – and again, usually in the form of pasta.
When I decided to cook dinner for my fiance’ the other night, I wasn’t feeling too inspired. It’s a big hassle to drive with my boot on (taking it on and off several times), so I wanted to make do with what I already had in the refrigerator and pantry.
Pasta it is (was).
I had 3/4 jar of canned sauce left over from a night that I made pizza. I’m usually a sauce snob, but jarred sauce is so convenient. So I decided to work with what I had and fancy it up a little. I saw an episode of Giatta a few years ago where she added red wine and mushrooms to make a pasta sauce that had all of the savory flavor of meat while still being veggie friendly.
I took about 3/4 lb of mushrooms and chopped them very finely, and sauteed them along with 1/4 cup chopped red onion until they were soft. To add another layer of flavor, I deglazed the pan with about 1/2 cup of red wine and let it (mostly) evaporate before adding in the jarred sauce.
From what I had already eaten that day I felt a little fiber-overloaded (TMI?), so I decided to use a tricolor (refined) pasta instead of whole wheat. It made the dish seem a bit fancier. After adding the cooked pasta (and 1/4 cup of the pasta water), I stirred in one block of Laughing Cow Light (sundried tomato flavor). It made it creamy without all the fat.
My intended side dish was bruschetta, with roasted red peppers, fresh tomatoes, basil, EVOO, and balsamic.
Of course I had no decent crusty bread at home either. Socca to rescue! Suprised? Of course not.
I made the socca like usual but with dried rosemary and oregano (about 1/2 tsp of each). I cooked it on the stove then topped it with tomato mixture and some crumbled goat cheese. It baked on a hot pizza stone at 400° for about 8 minutes.
Tasted like pizza but added some protein to the meal… delish!
Overall it was a satisfying meal. I only made 1 1/2 cups of pasta so there wasn’t too much leftover, but the fiance’ still got to have a second helping. He acts like he’s a fan of the socca (doesn’t know there is bean flour involved), but always says he likes whatever I make. I almost wish he’d be honest, but he says he’s so grateful whenever someone cooks for him that he’s not picky.
Would you rather get someone’s honest opinion on your cooking, or would you rather they pretend to like your food?