Welcome back! It’s been a while since I posted on this blog (sorry!). Dylan and I decided we’d try and do the Pantry Challenge this past weekend, whereby we try and use up things that have been sitting around in our pantry and freezer, instead of going grocery shopping. And we really committed to the idea since it was the Canada Day long weekend and all the shops were closed. The challenge saved us some money this week and helped us declutter our kitchen! We’ve been working on decluttering everything else, so we figured why not the pantry too?
So, this recipe should produce a tasty tomato-based pasta with minimal effort, that will also clear out your fridge or freezer of any veggies that need using up.
I’m calling this one an ‘un-recipe’ because you can basically just wing it and still end up with a tasty meal. I’ve been affectionally referring to this pasta as Fridge Pasta for a while around our house, and it’s definitely our go-to staple for a quick and easy, thought-free meal to make when we’re tired or feeling lazy. It’s also healthy and filling!
Here’s how we make it:
*Many of these ingredients are optional, I just wanted you to get an idea of what I like to add in, when I’m able to.*
- 1 jar of tomato sauce, or 1 large can of crushed or diced tomatoes + 1 small can of tomato paste
- Pasta (whole wheat, gluten-free, spiralized veggies, whatever floats your boat)
- Veggies – whatever you have in the fridge or freezer! (Some ideas: zucchini, tomato, mushroom, onion, garlic, basil, peppers, broccoli, peas, dark leafy greens… etc.)
- Red lentils (optional but recommended!)
- Spices – options include: basil, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic powder (if not using fresh), onion powder (if not using fresh), and whatever else you love
- Nutritional yeast (optional)
- Olives (optional)
- Vegan cheese (optional)
- Chili flakes (optional)
- Grab a medium sauce pan and add a splash of olive oil (or other cooking oil, or water if you’re using a non-stick and want your meal to be oil-free). Set the temperature to medium heat and allow the oil to heat up a bit.
- Add in diced garlic and diced onion (if you’re using them). If you don’t have any fresh garlic and onion, then you can use garlic and onion powder later on to help flavor it.
- Dice up your veggies and add them to sauce pan. If you’re using spinach or other dark leafy greens, do not add them now or they will turn to mush. I usually add them in during the last few minutes of cooking, so they just wilt slightly. Use your judgment with your veggies. Most things I just add in all at once, but if it’s something more fragile, hold off.
- Season with salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Feel free to add other spices you love. If you are not using fresh garlic or onion, now’s the time to add your powdered ones.
- Sautee your veggies for 5-10 minutes or so.
- Add in your jar of tomato sauce, or a large can of crushed tomatoes, or a large can of diced tomatoes. If you’re using diced or crushed tomatoes, I recommend adding in a small can of tomato paste as well, if you have one. You may also need to add more spices – taste the sauce as it cooks and see.
- Bring to a good simmer and then add in red lentils. I usually start with about a ½ cup, but it’s up to you.
- Add some water. If using lentils, you will need some water. I usually start with about a cup, but it depends on how the sauce is looking. I often will add a splash more later on, if it’s not looking ‘saucy’ enough. If you are not using lentils you may not need water, but again use your judgment and sauciness preferences :).
- Leave to simmer for about 30 minutes. (Less if you are not using lentils!)
- While your sauce is simmering, cook your pasta. You know the drill: bring a large pot of water to boil, then add the pasta and strain when it’s cooked through.
- Taste you’re sauce from time to time. Once the lentils are tender and your veggies are cooked through, you’re all set! It’s at this stage I like to add the leafy greens (if I’m using them).
- Serve it up! Optional: top with nutritional yeast, olives, vegan cheese and/or chili flakes.
- Enjoy 🙂
Let me know what you thought of this meal in the comments below! Does your family have any easy go-to un-recipes? I’d love to hear about them!