Sometimes what you don’t know can help you, especially when it comes to getting vegetables on the table. Kids will always eat pasta with tomato sauce but they won’t always eat their vegetables—so it can help to magically, mysteriously hide them in the sauce. This is the sort of sauce that you may end up making on a regular basis, so it’s worth investing in an immersion blender. It really speeds up the works.
Yield: Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
1 zucchini, shredded
few handfuls baby spinach
Heat the oil in a saucepan with the onions and garlic. Sauté them until they begin to soften and caramelize. Pour in the tomatoes, toss in the salt and pepper, oregano, carrots, bell pepper and zucchini. Simmer for 20 minutes or so.
Stir in the spinach and continue simmering briefly as it wilts and heats through.
Purée the sauce with an immersion blender directly in the pot to minimize mess or with your food processor or blender. Reheat as needed, then cross your fingers and serve with your family’s favourite pasta.
Just about any vegetable can be simmered until soft and then puréed into this sauce. Green vegetables will darken the colour a bit and might not impress some critics. Broccoli, fennel, even sweet potato can be grated in. For green-loving eaters, the baby spinach leaves may be brought out of hiding, kept whole and simply tossed with the hot sauce and the freshly cooked pasta. Instead of whole canned tomatoes (which are only cooked in the can), you may use the less-flavourful puréed, crushed or diced canned tomatoes (which are all cooked out of the can first and then a second time in the can).
A perfectly roasted chicken is the essence of home cooking, especially when the chicken and its fixings are raised responsibly on a nearby farm. In the fall my family really enjoys this aromatic dish. As the chicken roasts, the apples “melt” and form a tasty rustic pan stew that is perfect tossed with the roast chicken. This is a very easy way to cook and serve a chicken.
Fresh cultured blue mussels are easy to cook as well as being a healthy and easy meal option. They’re quick and tasty and can be eaten right out of the pot or used in a variety of recipes. Before you start cooking, you should always give your mussels a quick rinse. Cultured blue mussels are pre-cleaned so that’s really all you need to do. The fresh water will cause the mussels to close. If there are any that don’t close give them a quick tap, if they still don’t close at least partially, simply discard them.