All of us have a favorite go-to recipe that we can put on the table quickly. Most likely you have the ingredients for it in the fridge or freezer. One of my favorites is what I call Carrot-Zucchini Pasta. Sometimes I make it as a vegetable dish and other times I add ground beef.
Easy Stove Top
I start with a splash of olive oil in my cast-iron skillet. Then I saute half an onion and a few cloves of garlic briefly before adding thinly sliced zucchini and carrots (about 2 each). If I have it, I toss in some sliced, yellow squash as well. If I’m going for a meat dish, I crumble ground beef into the mixture. After sauteing awhile, I add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. On goes the lid and everything cooks until the vegetables are to my liking.
Salting the Pasta Pot
Meanwhile, I toss some spaghetti noodles in a pot of boiling, salted water. How much salt, you say? Italian cooking guru Anna Del Conte says the cooking water should taste like the Mediterranean Sea. I’ve been on the Mediterranean, but not in it. So that doesn’t help. Best to go with the old 1:1:4 formula for salting (1 pound pasta; 1 tablespoon regular salt; to 4 quarts (16 cups) water. If you’re using Kosher salt, up the amount to one and a half tablespoons.
Or forget the water and use chicken broth instead to gain more depth of flavor. Towards the end, I put the cooked, drained noodles into the skillet along with a handful of grated cheddar and/or Parmesan.
A One Dish Meal
There you have it—a doggone good meal in a hurry! And you can play with the ingredients and seasonings. Add chopped tomatoes or frozen peas, if you like. When I have a bit of spaghetti sauce on hand, I sometimes add that. It’s a playful recipe that you can make in whatever proportions you need.
For extra kick, add a jolt of hot sauce.