Beka To Basics

Real Food Cooking

Archive for the tag “Spaghetti”


Have I talked about pasta yet?  Probably.  But leave it to me to not check first.IMG_0215

Christmas 2011, Mom gave me a pasta maker and it’s still probably my most favorite kitchen tool.  Least practical favorite kitchen tool? Yes. But that’s ok, we all have our faults. 😉

I enjoy making pasta with it.  I didn’t get the kind that has a motor, so I hand crank sheets of pasta.  It came with a cutter that would make fettuccine and (kind of) spaghetti noodles.  Well, I broke the cutter, so I cut the sheets with a pizza cutter instead.  It did take a while to figure out the best consistency for the pasta dough, but it has gotten easier for me to correct mistakes.  I broke the cutter when I tried to take it apart to clean it after forcing a too wet pasta dough through.  Bad idea.  It is impossible to put back together.  Now that I’m better with the consistency, I haven’t had many problems like that.

You don’t have to have a pasta maker to make pasta.  I mean you will be doing all of the work yourself anyways, the pasta maker just presses the pasta.  It’s a lot easier with the pasta maker, but it’s not required.

IMG_0823Patience is key with pasta.  There’s a bit of mixing, then kneading, then rolling, then cutting, then cooking.  All before you can eat one bite.  Ok, that’s not completely true.  I’ve eaten “raw” pasta before.  It chewy and tasty, but not something I want to sit down to a bowl of.

I use the recipe from Bob’s Red Mill Semolina Flour, except that I typically half it unless I want to have a lasagna or a lot of leftovers.  It’s a good place to start before playing with flavored pasta.  I’ve done spinach pasta and basil pasta.  I would like to try red pepper and maybe a spicy noodle soon.

What I haven’t really mastered is the Tomato Sauce.  I can do Alfredo, sometimes herbs, butter and pepper is good too.  I use the pasta as noodles in soup, but I just haven’t been able to get a sauce that I really liked.  Until now.  And I’m sharing.

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 quart jar of crushed tomatoes or a big can (28 oz?)
  • an olive oil and butter mixture totaling about 2 tbsp
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • rosemary
  • basil
  • parsley
  • sage
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • any other green herb you like, marjoram and tarragon are both good
  • sour cream

Ok, my recommendation for cooking pasta sauce is to use the BIGGEST pot you have.  Yes, even though you are only cooking a jar IMG_0824of sauce, it will boil and splatter and your largest pot will help to catch some of the splatters.

Melt the butter and olive oil and add the herbs.  I don’t include measurments beause its really a matter of taste, but I had a total of about 1 1/2, maybe 2 tbsp, heavy on the basil and oregano. Do what you like, but saute them first.  Then add the garlic and saute a few more minutes.  Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 20 minutes or longer.  If you want to simmer for hours like some recipes call for, I would start with more tomatoes since they will cook down.

IMG_0825If you are making your own pasta, now is the time to roll it out and cut it.  You can cook fresh pasta right in the sauce, which is really nice.  Add the noodles in and cook 5 – 10 minutes until they are done.  If you are using dried pasta, then cook as normal then add to the sauce.  Once everything is together, turn off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes, then add some sour cream.  A tsp or a few tbsps.  Taste as you go to decide if you want more.  Top with a little feta or Parmesan (perhaps both?).


Vegan Eggplant

From time to time you have to try something different, like cooking something vegan. (Do you capitalize Vegan?)

I fully enjoy eating meat and dairy products (just wait until tomorrow, you’ll see just how much I enjoy them!), but sometimes it’s good to have some veggies and why not let them star in their own show?

Remember my plea for help to use all the eggplants I’ll be getting? Well, I found this one and it gave me an idea for this vegan fest.

Vegan Eggplant Patties and Squash Noodle Spaghetti

Eggplant Patties

  • 1 Eggplant
  • 1 cup of Breadcrumbs
  • 1 or 2 cloves of Garlic
  • Italian Seasoning

Tomato Sauce

  • Onion
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 1 or 2 cloves of Garlic
  • Basil – I used fresh

Squash Noodles

  • 1 Squash
  • Olive Oil

I started with the sauce.  Just dice the onion and saute in olive oil until they are softened a bit and season with salt and pepper.  Add the garlic and saute.  Rough chop the tomatoes and add then to the onion and garlic mixture.  They will start to break down and make a sauce as the heat through. You can help them along by mashing them with a potato masher.  Let it simmer while you make everything else.

To make the patties, start by roasting the eggplant until its soft and mushy.  Pull out all the insides and mix them together with the breadcrumbs, garlic and Italian seasoning.  It is a really wet mixture, but if it won’t hold together at all, just add a few more breadcrumbs until it does.  Form the mixture into patties and fry in a bit of olive oil until they are browned a bit on both sides.  It’s already cooked, so really its just to make the outside crunchy and delicious.

Use a potato peeler to make “noodles” out of the squash.  Once the patties are done, add some more olive oil to the pan and saute the squash strips until they are cooked throuh.  It will only take a few minutes since the slices are so thin.  Add the noodles to the sauce and serve with an eggplant pattie (or two).  I might try to make the patties into “meatballs” next time so it looks like real spaghetti and meatballs. 🙂

This is one eggplant preparation that I actually like. I still have many other recipes to try and make more eggplants coming my way in the next few weeks, so I’m glad to have at least this one to fall back on in case the others don’t work for me.

Come see me and some other great recipes at Real Food Wednesday and What’s in the Box link party




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