When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Easy peasy pasta with peppers

The other day I was rummaging through my cupboards and fridge late in the afternoon, looking to find inspiration for dressing up the pasta we were having as a side dish for dinner. I found a jar of roasted red bell peppers and some fresh basil and came up with this idea for a super quick and easy sauce. The rich red of the peppers and deep green of the basil was pretty and pleasing to the eye, and the sauce was robustly flavourful and delicious!

1 jar (370 mL) of whole roasted red bell peppers (approximately 4 peppers), sliced into 1-inch strips
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or 2 cubes of frozen basil saved from your previous summer's harvest -- see here
for instructions on how to do this)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
approximately 2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and stir for one minute, or until fragrant. Add roasted red peppers and basil and cook until hot, stirring frequently.
Transfer pepper, basil, garlic and oil mixture to a food processor or blender and puree until fairly smooth.
Just before serving, reheat sauce in a saucepan over medium heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with your favourite cooked pasta and serve warm.

We savoured this impromptu sauce over brown rice fettucini and served it alongside grilled turkey tenderloin and asparagus (which we also grilled and then sprinkled with lemon juice). We were very pleased with the end result!

The key to being able to quickly pull off a nutritious meal that your family will enjoy is keeping your fridge, freezer, and pantry well-stocked with healthful foods that can easily be combined in interesting ways. Keeping a selection of lean, naturally-raised meats in the freezer, crispers full of many colours of veggies and flavourful herbs in the fridge, and pantry shelves lined with staples like olive oil, vinegars, whole grain rices and pastas, varieties of no-salt-added canned beans and tomatoes, organic broths, and numerous spices will make it easier to come up with something creative and tasty when the dinner hour approaches. I'd love to hear your great ideas for healthy last-minute meals, too -- I hope you'll share them in the comments section below!

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