Lentil Ragu with Pasta

lentil ragu

I have been meaning to make a meaty tomato sauce for pasta for ages and ages. I knew I wanted to use lentils but I just wasn’t inspired on how to do it, until I saw this recipe on CBC for red lentil ragu. Theirs isn’t quite what I had in mind though – I wanted pasta, not potatoes as the starch, and I wanted it to be a bit more tomato-y than their proportions allowed. So after a few tweaks, voila! I really like using leeks instead of onions, they make the flavour more subtle.

This ended up being just what I had in mind: vegan but also a perfect match for a little cheese, pasta but more filling. It would also be tasty served with a side of mashed potatoes as almost a deconstructed shepard’s pie.

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Kale & Mozzarella Pasta Bake

Oh February, I will be so glad to see you go. How can one survive in a city that has seen record breaking cold for the month? From conversations with my husband and my coworkers, I know that even the cold-weather-lovers amongst us have started to feel bogged down by the sheer amount of cold weather alerts and blizzards we’ve had this month. Rationally, I know spring will be here soon. But irrationally, I think perhaps I should just give into the cold and lay down on a snowbank. Or start hibernating for the last few weeks of cold.

kale pasta bake
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Quick Cherry Tomato Pasta

cherry tomato pasta

So I don’t often make a meal and post about it on the same night, but this pasta is that fast!

I actually have the week off, so I was planning to do all the slow cooking, fancy meals I never get a chance to. But this afternoon I got a physical, and afterwards I just had such a massive headache that there was no way I could cook anything elaborate. I just needed fast and tasty.

cherry tomato pasta

And this pasta fulfills both needs! I’ll be honest, I used that entire head of garlic. Normal people, you can use a couple cloves, but Will and I are garlic fiends. And this is my parents’ garlic, and it was picked only a few weeks ago and it’s still so fresh and fragrant. Next on the docket is to roast a few heads and eat it with a baguette. Mmmm.

cherry tomato pasta

Quick Cherry Tomato Pasta

Serves 2 very hungry individuals

  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes (I just used one plastic clamshell worth)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves, chiffoned
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups of dried pasta

Start by bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package directions, reserving a 1/2 cup of the pasta water to add to the mixture.

Meanwhile, peel the garlic, and laying the flat edge of a knife on it, smash it to flatten it. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the garlic to it. Slice the tomatoes in half. Once the garlic is fragrant and golden, add the tomatoes and the pepper flakes. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes have softened and released a lot of their juices. Add half of the basil leaves.

Add the drained pasta to the sauce, adding a little pasta water if needed. Garnish with the basil leaves and enjoy!


Roasted Garlic Pasta

roasted garlic
I eat a lot of garlic. A lot. Luckily for me, my parents grow the tastiest organic garlic in Ontario, so I always have a great supply. Sometimes the heads are a bit smaller than the ones you buy in a grocery store, but they taste so much better.

With cold and flu season just around the corner, the more garlic I eat, the more protected I feel. Lately I’ve been averaging at least a head of garlic a day, so hopefully that will take care of any of the germs that sneak my way. I eat most of it raw, but once in a while I like to roast some: it gives garlic this mellow quality and ends up being so rich.

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Shutterbean’s Sweet Pea Pasta

pasta post

Because Will works much later than I do (and has an extra long commute to boot), we usually have dinner around 7:30 or 8. And by that time I’m usually starving and I’ve passed the point of no-return with my hunger. You know, the point where you’re too hungry to cook so you end up like, eating cheese directly out of the fridge or ordering a pizza out of desperation? The key that I’ve found to surviving this is to make dinner as much ahead of time as possible (that, and snacking excessively when I get home from work). Casseroles are good for this, but I also like the kind of meals where you can do all the prep work ahead of time. This pasta is a perfect example of that: you do all the chopping and measuring and grating ahead of time and then the dish comes together in the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta. Delicious!

I added some spinach to Tracy’s recipe, partially out of a desire to eat more vegetables and partially because I had some spinach slowly wilting in the fridge and I felt quite sorry for it. I also subbed the mint for basil because it happened to be what I had in my tiny herb garden.

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Shutterbean’s Sweet Peas and Shells Alfredo (original recipe)

Serves 2.

  • 2.5 cups dried shell pasta
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1.5 cups baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup chiffonaded basil
  • fresh pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, adding the peas within the last two minutes of cooking.

Meanwhile, gather the other ingredients. Once the pasta is drained, add the butter and cream to the pot and cook over a low heat until slightly thickened. Add parmesan, lemon zest, basil and pepper. Once the cheese is melted and the sauce is thick, add the drained pasta and peas. Add the spinach and stir until it wilts. Serve with more fresh ground pepper and parmesan.