When in Rome . . .
The first time I was in Italy I ate pasta at nearly every meal. Needless to say, I had to forgo that quaint culinary custom when I returned home. Even so, pasta is one of my favorite comfort foods.
In an attempt to make the sauce a bit more nutritious, I often concoct what I call Veggie Spaghetti. (The base recipe comes from my old side dish for Italian Squash.)
I commence with a soffritto of onions and garlic, followed by ground beef (or not), chopped squash (yellow and green), and a carrot or two.
Before the mixture starts to stick to the cast iron skillet, I pour in a smidge of water and cover with a lid.
As to the Skillet
If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, drop everything you’re doing, and run to the nearest hardware store. This is a must-have in your kitchen arsenal. What’s more, the sturdy cookware will become an heirloom. I still have my mother’s cast iron. I use a glass top from another pan, that fits perfectly atop my 12” skillet, so I can watch what’s going on without lifting the lid.
Spicing It Up
Enough about skillets. Back to the Veggie Spaghetti. I use only salt and pepper, and a bit of red pepper flakes for seasoning. Sometimes I add a squirt of the tomato paste that comes in a tube.
If I’m going for a pasta dish rather than just a vegetable side, I drop in uncooked noodles, re-lid, and simmer until the noodles are softened and the dish takes on an irresistible aroma and color.
At the end, I hit the veggie pasta with a jolt of hot sauce and a topping of Parm. (You can see this is a dish ripe for interpretation.)