garlic-pastaWhen you’re looking for great meals without meat, there are few better places to look than what is often referred to as the “rustic” side of a cuisine. For those in the know, that’s peasant food, which is a wonderful thing. These are meals designed to be filling, healthy, and satisfying with a few inexpensive and readily-available ingredients. Good for you and your food budget!

This week, our Meatless Monday meal takes us to Italy for one of its humblest (and most delicious) dishes, pasta and marinara. Usually, I’ll just pick up pasta at the store, make a quick sauce, and call it a day. This week, I decided to get a little extra-homey and try making pasta myself. After over 30 years of cooking, I figured it was about time I tried it and – what do you know? It’s almost comically easy!

As a bonus, the pasta was like nothing I’ve had outside of VERY good Italian restaurants, a nice al dente firmness with just the right yield to the bite. The biggest plus was that, since I was making it myself, I was able to bring in my own flavors to the pasta. Since we’re about to go on vacation, I wanted to use up as much of a huge stock of garlic as possible before we leave. (There are few kitchen sins which bother me as much as food waste.) So, I roasted up a bunch to use in both pasta and sauce, giving it a rich, sweet/savory flavor and aroma.

If you have a little extra time, I whole-heartedly recommend giving basic pasta-making a whirl. It’s not only simple to do, but also costs pennies vs the dollars of store-bought. Now that I know how easy it is, I suspect we’ll be having homemade pasta far more often.

The sauce is also a product of imminent vacation, since we had red peppers and some red onion left over from a bigger meal I made earlier in the week. And we all know how much red peppers cost, so I hate like hell to let them go to waste. Instead, I used them to beef up the marinara and give a sweet foil to the tangy tomato.

Well, that’s the lot for this week’s Meatless Monday meal. I’ll be back next time with a big, meatless family dinner from our secret lair in the mountains. Until then, have a great week!

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