The “Mixed Pasta Bowl”

Giatura has listed several of her comfort foods so far, so I figured it’s about time I posted one of mine…

There are times when I frankly don’t feel like cooking. This dish is perfect for those times, since I still have yet to master the art of making only one serving dinner at a time. As a result, I end up making enough to comfortably feed a family of four – which means anywhere from three to four meals worth of food for me.

The ingredient list always has three constants – garlic (usually around two to three cloves), olive oil and some shape of pasta. The shape doesn’t matter that much – it really depends on what I want at that given moment.

The other ingredients vary depending on what I have in the house. Usually, it ends up looking something like this:

  • A meat or two (chicken, beef, occasionally shrimp)
  • At least one frozen veggie (broccoli and green beans are typically what I have around)
  • Various spices – I have a decent assortment in my spice closet, and what I use depends on whether or not I plan on using a sauce or not. If I am, I conform my spices to what will be good with the sauce. Common spices usually include black pepper, sage, red pepper flakes, and nutmeg. Occasionally, I’ll opt for no sauce, and simply use sage and seasoned salt.
  • Occasionally, some type of cheese (Parmesan, shredded mozzarella, or shredded provolone)

The actual cooking process is easy – after the garlic has been finely chopped, it cooks until just golden in olive oil. The pasta water has been going for awhile by this point (always salt it a little – partly for taste, and I’m convinced it lets the water boil faster). The meat goes in at an appropriate time, timed to finish about when the pasta is nearly done. This means occasionally I need to wait to actually start heating up the oil – but I’ve done this dish enough times to know roughly when to this.

The veggies get tossed in when the meat is mostly cooked – they don’t really need a lot of time, just enough to get to the right consistency. The one vegetable I’ve found that needs to be cooked in a particular way is carrots – boil them first in some water to make sure they’re not too crunchy.

Finally, when the pasta is done (usually to al dente or slightly more cooked – this depends on whether I’m cooking for myself or for Giatura), I drain it and toss it into the pan that everything else has been cooking in. This is when I’ll add a sauce if I’m using one, and the cheese, giving everything a few minutes to really cook together. By the end of those few minutes, the flavors have combined nicely, and the cheese is nice and melted in.

Then, it’s simply a matter of serve and enjoy! I do tend to put away my leftovers as I’m serving my portion into one of my glass bowls, and clean the last few dishes that need to be done (like the pan, pasta pot, etc).


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. giatura
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 13:14:51

    Thanks for sharing your very versatile pasta dish!

    I made a variant on this today using tofu, canola oil, the sauce the Chinese restaurant gave us for dumplings, a sprinkling of ginger, and some soy sauce (added after the fact for taste). It was easy, fairly quick, and very, tasty.


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