Sunday, February 10, 2013

Spicy Italian Pasta - Valentine Red Trader Joe's Style

Spicy Italian Pasta
For Valentine's Day I am cooking red, red pasta that is.  This time I am going to post something that I've been doing lately that is preparing something quick for dinner.  I shop weekly at a neighborhood small grocery called Trader Joe's.  This store is not nationwide.  It is also not available internationally, of course.  I just want to share how I love this store.  Everything on that plate above was bought from this store(except spices).  It is hard at times to find vegan ingredients but this store provides plenty vegan stuff.  .

What I love about this store is that most ingredients are already cut and prepared so I don't need to do a lot of chopping. I still have to chop a few items such as onions, bell pepper, garlic, etc.  but most vegetables are already cut into bite pieces (including the sun-dried tomatoes). If there is no Trader Joe's near you, I hope you can find similar ingredients at a nearby store.

Ingredients I bought at Trader Joe's to prepare this spicy italian pasta, from left hand corner, clockwise: organic broccoli florets, red bell pepper, onion, pitted kalamata olives, sliced cremini mushrooms, Tofurky Italian Sausage, high fiber spaghetti, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted pine nuts, green capers in a jar, tomate paste (not shown).
The pasta can be replaced with a gluten-free pasta such as quinoa pasta or brown rice pasta. I have done it a few times but this time I am trying their high-fiber pasta.   The broccoli florets are cooked at the end in the pasta cooking water so the color stays bright green. 

Spicy Italian Pasta
Serve 6-8

1 Onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/4 dry sundried tomatoes, soaked in 1/3 cup warm water
6 or 8 oz Cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 Tofurky Italian Sausage (half of the package pictured above), sliced to 1/2 inch cubes, optional
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, drained, slice each olive into 2
2 Tbsp. Capers, drained
1/2 tsp. Fennel Seeds
1/2 tsp. dried Oregano leaves
1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 cup vegetable broth
Salt and freshly grated black pepper
1-2 Tbsp. Olive oil

2 cups Broccoli Florets
1/2 cup loosely chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup roasted pine nuts

1 lb. dry spaghetti pasta (any kind such as whole wheat, gluten-free, brown rice, or high fiber)

  1. Put 4-5 quarts of warm water in a pasta cooking pot on a high heat.  Add a generous amount of kosher salt.  It takes a while to boil this much water so I usually start it ahead of time, about 10 minutes before I start preparing other ingredients.
  2. Soak dry sundried tomatoes in 1/3 cup warm water before chopping all other ingredients.
  3. In a heavy cast iron pot (5 qts), heat olive oil.  Add onions, garlic, and red bell pepper. Saute until onions are translucent.
  4. Add fennel seeds, oregano leaves, and dried red pepper. Stir and combine until fragrant.
  5. Add mushrooms and Italian Sausage.  Stir and saute until mushrooms are soften.  Add kalamata olives and capers.
  6. At this time, the pasta water should be boiling,  add dry pasta and simmer according to the time on the package minus 1 minute.  For example, if the directions say 8 minutes, simmer for 7 minutes.  If it says 12 minutes, cook for 11 minutes only.  The finishing of cooking the pasta will be with the sauce mixture in the pot.
  7. Drain sundried tomatoes, chop into pieces if necessary.  Pour sundried tomatoes soaking water into the vegetable broth.
  8. Add sundried tomatoes pieces into the pot, stir.
  9. Add vegetable broth and tomato paste into the pot.  Combine with the rest of ingredients and turn the heat down to low.
  10. When pasta is al dente, drain and add the cooked pasta into the pot.  Combine with the sauce mixture until the broth is almost absorbed.
  11. Meanwhile, add broccoli pasta into the boiling pasta water, simmer for 2 minutes.  When the broccoli reached a bright color, drain, and then add to the pasta mixture in the pot.
  12. Add chopped flat leaf parsley and taste for salt.  Add more salt if necessary and some grated black pepper.  Sprinkle with roasted pine nuts.
  13. Serve immediately.
Tips:  This dish can prepared ahead of time.  After step 12, spread this dish onto a large flat tray so it cools immediately and the cooking process is stopped.  Otherwise, the pasta will stick together and becomes mushy from overcooking.  When it is cool, store in a large plastic or glass container.  Reheat in the microwave the next day.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Rooted Vegan said...

OH my that looks sooooo good!!!

T said...

This sounds and looks so yummy! Love how you threw some fennel seeds in there!

Jon said...

If you want REALLY red pasta, try cooking it in cheap red wine (which is plentiful at Trader Joe's). It ends up looking like this:

Unknown said...

Thanks Jon! That is really red. I've never done that before. Cool!

Diana Mendoza said...

Lovely sun-dried tomatoes are a hallmark of Italian food and it goes well with Italian pasta.

Jennifer Kelly said...

Great pic! Gonna try your recipe on Valentine’s Day I’m sure it will be a hit!!