Monday, June 8, 2015

Simple Fresh Pasta with Quick Spaghetti Sauce

Mondays always seem to be far more hectic than they should be - after all, it's just another workday. However, Murphy's law always seems to dictate that if things that mess with routine are going to happen, you bet Mondays at about 4:55PM is when you're going to discover them!

Tonight, for example, was the night of my class' music and movement presentation - a fun opportunity for the little ones to showcase their talents for sure! While I certainly knew about it ahead of time, it still means not getting home until 8PM at the earliest without dinner... but thanks to a little advance planning this weekend a big ol' pot of healthy, hearty noodles and sauce is minutes away.

I was actually inspired to re-create tonight's dinner after making pasta and spaghetti sauce with my Home Economics classes. With such few ingredients and a great opportunity to make a mess, fresh pasta is a perfect opportunity to get kids into the kitchen, not to mention give them an appreciation for the work it takes to make their favourite food! All of the kids I worked with (grades 1-3) loved the whole process of both dough and sauce making, especially when they got to "play" with the pasta machine!

Fresh Pasta with Quick Tomato Sauce

When it came to whipping up the sauce, I took a hint from a few celebrity chefs (i.e. Michael Smith and Rachael Ray) and added a few "secret", flavour-packed ingredients that made the 5 minute sauce taste like it simmered all day! The first trick was a combination of plain tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes - when mixed, they made a perfect base that was not too sweet, spicy or acidic. Then I added rich vegetable stock for a long-simmered taste and tamari for a burst of umami flavour. Finally, a piquant zip from a dash of red wine vinegar woke up the dried spices and really lightened the overall mouthfeel, making it perfect for cloaking hand-cranked pasta. Serving it to mixed (and young) company, I opted to keep things smooth and meat-free originally, but when I make it myself I throw in most of the garden too!

Simple Fresh Pasta
Makes just over 1 lb, perfect for 6 (side dish) portions
2 ¾ cups flour, plus more as needed (I used 1 cup semolina flour and 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour - you can swap in up to ½ the flour for whole wheat as well. )
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp ground flaxseed (optional, for more nutrition - included in the NI)
¾ cup warm water, plus more as needed
½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  1. Combine the flour(s) and salt (and flaxseed if using) in a mixing bowl.
  2. With a spoon, create a well in the centre and add the water and olive oil.
  3. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together
  4. Using clean hands, knead in the bowl until the ingredients bind together and it forms into a ball. The dough should not be sticky, but should be moist enough to hold together.
  5. If the dough is too dry at this point you can add water, ¼ tsp at a time, until the dough is more workable. If the dough is too sticky, add a teaspoon of flour at a time, until dough is workable.
  6. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth.
  7. If you find dough too sticky, sprinkle in flour as needed.
  8. Form the dough into a ball and dust the surface with flour.
  9. Cover with a clean towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
  10. After the dough has rested, use a sharp knife to divide the ball of dough into 4 pieces.
  11. Shape each piece into a flattened log, generously flouring each side.
  12. Pass one piece of the dough through the roller part of a pasta maker, beginning on the thickest setting and going down 1-2 notches at a time to your desired thickness.
  13. Alternatively you can roll the dough by hand as thinly as you can.
  14. To cut the pasta, re-flour both sides of the dough sheet and pass it through the cutting mechanism of your pasta maker.
  15. If you don’t have a pasta maker you can cut noodles with a pizza cutter or knife.
  16. Place cut pasta on a cookie sheet coated with flour and dust with extra flour so the noodles do not stick together.
  17. Dry for 15 minutes, then transfer to a plastic container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can freeze the dough in the container up to 3 months.
  18. Boil for approximately 4-5 minutes, or until pasta begins to float to the surface.
  19. If using frozen pasta, do not thaw first (add 2 minutes to the cooking time).
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 242.5
Total Fat: 2.5 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 195.1 mg
Total Carbs: 45.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.8 g
Protein: 7.8 g

Quick Spaghetti Sauce
Makes about 2 cups, 8 servings
1 cup plain low-sodium tomato sauce
1 cup low-sodium crushed tomatoes
¼ cup vegetable or chicken stock*
½ tbsp tamari
½ tbsp sugar
½ tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp fennel seeds
  1. In a pot, mix together all the ingredients until well combined.
  2. Place pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  3. Cook for 5 minutes, then toss with cooked pasta and enjoy!
* I love homemade stock, but when I don't have any on hand I love to use a quality "cooking stock" like Swanson's or Imagine brand

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 22.2
Total Fat: 0.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 98.8 mg
Total Carbs: 5.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.3 g
Protein: 0.9 g

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