I love a good pasta meal for lunch or dinner, but especially lunch, since the carbs give me a great mid-day boost. I also love loading the pasta dish with veggies, so I can bulk it up without meats or mocks. Plus, the veggies give the dish such a nice color!
But the make-or-break, of course, is the sauce. I love me some fresh sauce, but a lot of recipes can be complicated or require a ton of simmering time. Enter Ridiculously Easy Tomato Basil Sauce! This sauce is fast, easy to make, and largely fresh. What’s not to love?
I started by using a whole tomato, some fresh basil, and a smidge of onion – as in, I chopped off about 1 1/4-inch slice. I would’ve used whole garlic cloves as well, but I’d used the rest of my garlic to make Golden Pizza Hummus, so I made due with garlic powder. I pulsed these ingredients in a blender, then transferred them to a sauce pan, where I added tomato paste (adds more flavor and makes for a deeper red), olive oil, and salt/pepper. I simmered the sauce while I made the pasta, and all were done in record time!
As for the pasta, I boiled some whole wheat penne for about six minutes, which made it al dente, just the way I like it. I also added broccoli and fresh arugula which was still on the stem. I chopped the arugula until I got to nothing but stems, then discarded the remaining stems; but you can add them if you want. I like to add the veggies to the boiling pasta about one minute before the pasta’s scheduled to be done, so that the veggies can cook a bit without getting too mushy. Then you just drain the pasta and veggies, return to the pot, then toss with your freshly-made sauce. Presto! A fresh pasta dish made with fresh sauce, all within 30 minutes.
Penne, Broccoli, and Arugula with Ridiculously Easy Tomato Basil Sauce (serves 1)
1 small-medium tomato, quartered
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
A slice or two of one yellow onion, quartered
1-2 cloves of garlic OR 1/2 to 1 tsp garlic powder
2 TB tomato paste
1 TB olive oil (optional but recommended)
Salt and pepper, to taste.
Place the fresh tomato, basil, onion, and garlic in a blender and pulse until pretty smooth, but not completely pureed (unless you don’t like chunky sauce). I highly recommend pulsing instead of straight-up blending, as this allows for greater control of the texture.
Transfer to a small sauce pan and add tomato paste. This will deepen the red color, so don’t worry when you initially pour out the blended ingredients and they look pink and bland. 🙂 Stir and heat over medium heat. Simmer for a few minutes over medium, making sure the sauce is good and bubbly, and the red color has a chance to really deepen. Add the olive oil and seasonings, then reduce the heat to low, simmering for at least five minutes more.
While the sauce cooks, make your pasta.
2/3 cup dry whole wheat penne
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1 cup chopped fresh arugula
Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan, then add the penne. Cook for six minutes, adding the broccoli and arugula after five minutes. Drain completely, then return to the pot. Toss with tomato basil sauce, then serve.