crazy delicious vegetarian improv pasta.

Guys, there’s no easy way to say this … I improvised a vegetarian dish for dinner tonight, and it kicked ass.

I guess that was pretty easy.

I had started baking at about 10 PM, and by 11:30 I wanted dinner. Because I hadn’t had dinner. I had a Panera sandwich at like 5:30, and that isn’t dinner. I am usually better about keeping myself alive. ANYWAY. I wanted dinner, but the problem with 11:30 PM dinner in the suburbs, even the very urban suburbs where I live, is that you’re baaasically restricted to what you have in the fridge. (I feel like even if I lived in a city I wouldn’t want to go shopping for dinner ingredients at 11:30, though.) As I may have mentioned previously, the wonderful parents of mine who are so kind as to allow me to live under their roof rent-free do not so much “keep staples” or “shop seasonally.” They decide what we’re going to eat every day and then they buy it. As a result, our fridge usually contains lots of leftovers, some root vegetables, some garlic and onions, and not much else. Our freezer is usually full of meat – my dad is a butcher and shops sales – but that’s, you know, frozen. And no matter how many defrosting tricks you know (I know several), it still takes time to make meat not frozen. Not to mention the time it would take to dig through the very intimidatingly packed freezer and find something I want to eat. So I took some pasta, took some leftover broccoli, and made the following fucking delicious mouth-party. Here’s what you need to make enough for one.

Pasta (I used about 1/3 lb. penne)
Onion
Garlic
Broccoli
Spinach
Oregano
Basil
Salt
Pepper
Olive oil
Lemon

You will notice there are no amounts listed. That is because this is a total throw-together dish and figuring out how much of each thing I used is kind of a headache. I’ll try to estimate as I go.

Start by putting your pasta water on to boil. Things I have learned recently: water boils faster if the pot’s covered! So cover the pot. Once the water is boiling, salt it generously and add your pasta and cook ’til it’s done. The sauce comes together really quickly, so I would not start the sauce until you’ve added the pasta to the water.

Start with some onion. I used about 1/3 of an onion because about that amount was sitting lonely on a shelf in the fridge. I diced it and threw it in a pan with some olive oil (enough to coat the bottom and a bit – remember, this is your sauce, so be a bit generous), kosher salt, and coarse ground pepper on medium heat. Medium is a pretty good temperature for sauteeing onions, though you can veer closer to high if you’re not going to add garlic to the pan. Which you are. So don’t veer.

Then I diced up two cloves of garlic and threw them in. They browned, which wasn’t my goal, but wound up being totally fine. (My mom hates browned garlic to the point where she will stop going to a restaurant if they routinely brown their garlic, so I live in terror of browned/burned garlic. Problem is, I’m pretty bad at not browning my garlic.) When I saw they were browning, I reduced the heat to medium-low.

At this point, I added my broccoli since it was already cooked and I was just warming it up. I could probably have added it later, you could probably add yours sooner if you like it more done or at about this time if you like it crunchy. I then squeezed in the juice of half a lemon. This was a risky move! I’ve never done lemon + pasta before! Fortunately, at this point my frying pan started to smell like a really, really good Italian restaurant and I stopped worrying about lemon + pasta because hoshitthesmell. (For Your Reference, it was a normal size lemon, and I definitely could have gotten more juice out of the half than I did. I intentionally went light because it was my first time.)

Then I added my herbs. I added about a stem of fresh oregano and about a tablespoon or two of fresh basil? I don’t know man, I added some fucking basil, what do you want, it’s in a plastic bag in the freezer and I just grabbed it until I had what looked like enough. Finally, I added a handful of baby spinach. We buy our baby spinach prewashed and awesome in large plastic bins. You should get on that shit, it’s delish.

That’s it. That’s the whole thing. Cook it until the spinach wilts, then toss that shit over your finished pasta.

It’s so good, guys. It is so so so good. With some sausage (cooked separately, to avoid mixing flavours) it would be a real meal. As it is, it’s a fantastic late-night dinner for a carnivore like myself. Next time I might reduce the lemon slightly, but otherwise it’s pretty much perfect. Make it.

I have posts coming down the pipe about Super 8, Winter’s Bone, and the metric shit-ton of baked goods I made tonight. I might even post about the mediocre but still tasty dinner I made the other night. But for now, revel in my vegetarian cooking. Zak, I am looking at you.

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About Sara

I like to talk about media, food, and gender.
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10 Responses to crazy delicious vegetarian improv pasta.

  1. Zak Linder says:

    Oh I am reveling :D. I’m quite experienced in the late-night-throw-leftovers-on-pasta move. Except for me it can also happen at any point past 12pm :>. Also, fuck yea lemony pasta sauces are awesome! If your fridge is especially barren, just tossing pasta in a oil/parmesan/black pepper/lemon juice mixture can be stupid delicious for the amount of effort.

  2. Red Jenny says:

    Yummy! Is this also something that would hold up pretty well over a few days in the fridge? I like to make bulk pasta salads and use them as lunches to avoid having to pay eating-out prices.

    • Sara says:

      I have no idea, I honestly only made enough for one. I generally don’t think oil-based sauces hold up particularly well, but please let me know if you do this how it works!

  3. Red Jenny says:

    Ok I’m gonna make this right now.

    • Red Jenny says:

      That was good! I used peas instead of broccoli because I have none of that. But it was a great, delicious return on the minimal investment of time and ingredients!

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