Friday 13 February 2009

PPN #100: Painless Pasta

It is the 100th Presto Pasta Night this week. Ruth of Once Upon a Feast has put in a mammoth effort to keep this blog event going for so long with weekly round-ups of fascinating pasta dishes which have re-enthused me about pasta.

I wanted to send in some pasta for the celebration week but there hasn’t been a lot of interesting cooking here lately. In this spirit, I thought I would send in my latest pasta project which is not fancy but is easy and tasty. My usual lazy pasta is a jar of pasta sauce and some broccoli tossed through cooked pasta. But I made some great pasta last year by throwing in vegies and cheese. Foolishly, I didn’t blog it because it seemed just too lazy. Now I can’t remember what I did and am seeking to recreate it.

The place that seemed best for inspiration is Alison Holst’s Meals without Meat which has a recipe for Painless Pasta that I have loved for years. It is such a delightful name, that I have used it here. Unlike most of my dishes I blog, this one is frighteningly easy – 15-20 minutes preparation. I have tried it a couple of times and it is still a wee big watery but I think this could be solved by making sure the vegies are cooked over a high heat.

My recipe is a record of what I do but I love Alison Holst’s because it is a list of anything you might put in with no quantities at all. Other ingredients which I might like to add are 1 bunch basil or other herbs, cream, pesto, creamed corn, grated carrot, mushrooms, spring onions, chilli, toasted pine nuts or seeds, tahini, lemon juice, yoghurt or cream cheese, parmesan or other cheeses etc etc.

I will continue to experiment so I may post further about this dish, but meanwhile it is a good standby to use some fresh vegies in a lazy pasta dish. It is not a dish to impress guests but is just right for evenings when energy levels are low and time is scarce.

Painless Pasta
(inspired by Alison Holst)
Serves 3

250g pasta (1 dessert bowl)
1 slurp of olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 tomatoes
1 small red or green pepper
1 handful rocket
1 handful baby spinach
1 handful marinated pitted kalamata olives (approx 50g)
2 handfuls grated tasty cheese
Lots of black pepper
Handful of mung bean sprouts, to serve (optional)

Cook pasta in salted water til tender and drain. Set aside in colander.

While pasta is cooking chop shallot, garlic, tomatoes and pepper. When pasta is drained, heat a slurp of olive oil in the hot saucepan in which pasta was cooked. Add remaining ingredients and fry over high heat 3-5 minutes until tomatoes soften. Add pasta and toss to coat with sauce. Serve with mung bean sprouts or additional grated cheese.

On the Stereo:
Chill with Mozart: Various Artists


  1. Painless food is always good as far as I'm concerned :) That looks so colourful and healthy, I could dive right in!

  2. Some of my favorite pastas are those with a variety of textures, and this seems like it fits the bill. Great idea - thanks for this! :)

  3. Pretty much any pasta is painless, I think--it's usually one of the quickest and tastiest meals you can make. This one looks lovely!

  4. Oh, I love a really easy pasta! I think it sounds fantastic (especially with pesto!)

  5. It's always good to have a tasty and easy standby supper dish isn't it? Pasta is definitely my comfort food, and I like the idea of scattering sprouts on the top.

  6. Thanks Lorraine - painless and colourful is always good for me :-)

    Thanks Chris - lots of different textures is always good for me too

    thanks Ricki - I have ways of making pasta dishes long and involved - esp where baking the pasta (eg lasagna or gnocchi) is involved - hence my need to have painless pasta to turn to :-)

    Thanks Steph - I tried this pasta with basil first but didn't have any when I made it this week but I love any pasta with basil or pesto

    Thanks Lysy - I have been doing a bit of scattering sprouts over dishes lately because I buy a packet and then need to use them up!

  7. Looks just yummy and very haelthy too!

    Wonder how the recipe would turn out with home made Pasta Fresco. For an easy recipe of pasta fresco check out my blog (linked to this post)

  8. Definitely my kind of dish...easy to put together, colorful, healthy and tasty...perfect combination. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

  9. Thanks Ashok - am sure this recipe would be great with home made pasta

    Thanks Ruth - so pleased to be part of the 100th PPN


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