As a self-identified foodie, I am all for going out to eat and trying intriguing new dishes. I’m not one to pass up dinner with friends on the Corner, at the Downtown Mall or even on the outskirts of Charlottesville if it means delectable food. If my friends want to test a new restaurant, I’m their go-to dining partner — except on Thursday nights. Anyone who knows me knows that in my kitchen Thursday night means pasta night.
Every Thursday, you might ask? How can you eat pasta every Thursday and not get tired of it? Isn’t it just carbs and sauce? You see, when you have a dish as versatile as mine, it becomes something you look forward to each week and even crave on the daily. Any pasta shape will do, which makes it easy to diversify this dish each week. The carb load is comforting and the veggies are nutritious — ideal for any pre-weekend festivities. The sauce can be substituted for anything you’re in the mood for, but a classic red sauce never fails to please. If you’re out of red sauce, olive oil works too. This recipe is really up to you.
The ingredients and instructions here are loose directives, so they can be altered to your liking. This is just one of my favorite combinations, but sometimes I simply throw in whatever vegetables in my fridge are about to go bad. I recommend sauteing an onion to add because it creates a pungent flavor. If you don’t have an onion, or despise the texture like me, opt for Trader Joe’s onion salt in the saute instead to aid in the flavoring. Sometimes, I’ll add in a dash of paprika or red pepper if I’m in the mood for spice. I really cannot emphasize enough how adaptable this recipe is!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
3 - 4 cloves of sliced garlic (or more, if you’re into that)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/3 cup of sliced cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup of sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup of broccoli
2 big handfuls of baby spinach
1 box of your favorite pasta shape
1 jar of your preferred sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
- Prep veggies beforehand. Slice cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic. Cut any broccoli pieces that are too large.
- Boil pasta. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in skillet.
- Once the oil is hot, toss in garlic. Saute until onions until golden brown and season with salt and pepper.
- Add your veggies — other than spinach — to the pan. I typically put broccoli first to let it soften. I like to add a ladle of pasta water into the pan at this time to help with that, too. Season again with salt and pepper.
- Add sauce to the veggies.
- Keep an eye on your pasta — usually 7 to 8 minutes to cook — to see if it’s ready, depending on what consistency you like. Then drain it.
- Now add pasta to the mixture of sauce and veggies. Stir it around until both are well mixed.
- Lastly, add the spinach. Stir it around with the pasta until it wilts from the heat. Add more salt, pepper and other spices if desired.
- Serve and enjoy!
The leftovers are the best part of this recipe. I don’t know if anyone else can relate, but my stomach typically craves more than one “suggested serving.” With this recipe, I can feast and not feel guilty because of the plentiful nutrients from the vegetables. Furthermore, I’ll still have leftovers for the rest of the weekend. Okay, so maybe I lied. Maybe this isn’t just my Thursday pasta dish, but in fact, my weekend pasta dish. Go ahead and judge me, but it’s just that good to have every night.
Thursdays at the University are big nights, but in my kitchen, Thursdays are even more than that. Some may argue no Thursday is complete without Trin, but I will disagree — no Thursday is complete without pasta. Sure, you can go out and have a wild time with your friends, but there’s room for all sorts of unexpected surprises with that. After three semesters at the University, I have gained some wisdom and let me tell you — this recipe is something that will never fail you.