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One of the easiest meals to “make” at home is spaghetti. It’s so easy to make, that a five year old can do it. All you have to do is take the pasta out of its package, put it in boiling water and leave it there for about 8 minutes. Next, drain and serve with pasta sauce from a jar. Though, boiling pasta and serving it with a sauce from a jar is not really cooking. Nor does the pasta have much nutritional value. Actually, most pastas are made with processed, refined white flour and are dehydrated (processed further) so they can have a long shelf-life. Also, switching to whole grain pasta may not make much a difference in health if you eat pasta on occasion. The reason is that flour in general is highly processed and by the time it hits the shelves, it has lost almost all nutritional value. However, if pasta is an everyday staple, the switch maybe worth considering.
Reducing the amount of pasta and adding vegetables will not only make the dish more delicious, but more satisfying. Also, consider making the pasta a side dish, not the main course. I would be a liar if I said I don’t eat pasta. I love pasta, but I have come to love it only with vegetables and fresh sauces. I also prefer to eat fresh, homemade pasta (well, pasta bought at the Farmer’s Market). Growing up, I thought a side of garlic bread and a bowl of pasta with Ragu is how the beautiful Italians did it. Processed flour and more processed flour. Now, I know that pasta is usually served as antipasto (starter course) and not with side of bread.
Use vegetables that are available locally and/or seasonally to spruce up your pasta. You say, you don’t have time to cook vegetables. I say, you don’t need extra time. Pasta isn’t exactly health food, but fresh pasta is good to enjoy moderately and as a side dish. However, if you are going to make it the meal, using fresh pasta (the kind you have to refrigerate and is extremely soft) and adding bulk (vegetables and herbs) will make it more nutritionally sound and healthier. Fresh pasta is a bit more delicate and only takes about 3 minutes to cook. So if you are using fresh pasta, you will need to devote just five minutes more over the stove to have a hearty meal.
Farmer’s Market Pasta
1/2 pound dried spaghetti or any other kind of preferred pasta
12 ounces fresh pasta*
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup onions, sliced
2 tbs garlic, minced
2 cup baby spinach
1 cup summer squash/zucchini, roughly chopped
1 medium tomato, roughly chopped (if available seasonally)
1/4 cup olives, sliced in halves
2 tbs lemon juice (optional)
1 tbsp dried basil or 3 tbsp fresh basil
1/2 tsp seal salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Bring salted water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, prepare all the vegetables by washing and chopping. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add pasta to boiling water. Stir pasta constantly in the beginning to prevent it from sticking together. Add onions to saute pan and let cook for two minutes. Add garlic and squash, and cook for four minutes. Stir frequently. Add spinach, olives, salt, pepper, and basil. Stir to mix well for one minute and turn off the stove. Drain pasta and transfer to saute pan. Mix pasta and vegetables well. Drizzle olive oil over the pasta and serve warm.
*Fresh pasta: after dropping the fresh pasta in salted boiling water, stir it to separate. Boil for 3 minutes and drain.
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