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Sunday, November 24, 2013

One Pot Pasta Dinner & Fresh French Bread



I have to say, this is quickly becoming my favorite go-to meal when I have nothing planned and I'm running out of time. It looks like it's really nothing, but it has tons of taste and the best part - without any heavy sauce that leaves you feeling like you are uncomfortably full. And pair it with some fresh homemade french bread, and you're in heaven! The bread only takes an hour and the pasta only takes 15 minutes... so it's a very do-able dinner, even on a week night. Even if you don't do the bread, dinner in just 15 minutes? How great is that?  But............just look at these loaves! You know you're going to want them.


I found this recipe over at Keep Home Simple and I've changed a few things to how I prefer to make it. First we will start with the bread since we can make the pasta while the bread is baking. Start with combining your warm water with the yeast and sugar. Then add your oil, salt and flour. I use my Kitchen Aid mixer to mix everything but you can use a spoon and then knead with your hands. Mix or knead for a few minutes until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. 


Then I put my oven on it's lowest setting, 170 degrees. When it reaches that, I turn it off, open the door and set my bowl with a clean towel over the top, on top of my oven door. Let it sit for 15 minutes. It should rise really well, like this:


Grease a large cookie sheet, or I have a french loaf pan. I also like to sprinkle a little corn meal on my pans when I bake bread for the loaf bottoms.


 Next, remove the dough from the bowl onto a clean work surface....


and divide your dough in half.


Shape each portion into a loaf size, tucking under the ends. Put them on your prepared pan.


Mix one egg with 1 tbsp of water to make an egg wash, and paint your loaf tops with it.


Then use a sharp knife and make diagonal slashes in the loaves, about an inch or two apart.Do not cut all the way through the loaves, just enough to slice into the tops.


Next, I like to add some spices. I sprinkled Italian Seasoning on one of the loaves. I left the other one plain, my youngest isn't fond of "colored pieces" on her food. Sometimes I add garlic & parmesan cheese.


Throw in a 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. That's it folks!! Don't they look wonderful?


Some of us like to eat it plain with butter....


And some of us like to dip our pieces in garlic & Parmesan infused oil...


When your bread has about 15 minutes left to bake, start working on the pasta. I put in the regular "basics" and then I add whatever I have on hand. When I have spinach, I add that. When I have mushrooms, I add those. Whatever you like, throw in. This time I only had the mushrooms. So, grab your stock pot or dutch oven and add uncooked pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, basil, and the mushrooms. 


Then add chicken broth.



and some red pepper flakes...


and drizzle about 2 tablespoons of oil on top.


Cover the pot partially, and bring to a boil. 


When boiling, reduce to a low simmer and cover completely. Stir about every 2 minutes.


When the liquid has reduced to about 1/2" left in the pot, you're done!


See, it doesn't really look like much, but it's very tasty! 

Go grab yourself a plate and some french bread and enjoy!






1 Hour French Bread (printable version)
  
2 1/2 cups warm water (approx 110 degrees)
2 tablespoons (or 3 - 1/4 oz. envelopes) yeast (I use Red Star Quick Rise)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons oil (I use GrapeOla grapeseed oil)
5 1/2-6 cups flour
1 egg + 1 tablespoon of cold water for egg wash

In a bowl, add yeast to warm water and mix. Sprinkle sugar on top and let sit for about 5 minutes, until you see the yeast bubbly/foamy on top.

Stir in the salt, oil and add flour a few cups at a time until mixed in. Either knead the dough by hand in the bowl for a few minutes until smooth and pulls away from the edges of the bowl or use a stand mixer with dough hook.

Cover your bowl with a clean towel in a warm environment for 15 minutes. (i.e. warmed up oven turned off, in microwave after on for 2 minutes with a glass of water, etc.)

Heat oven to 375 degrees and grease a large cookie sheet. Optional: Sprinkle with corn meal. Move dough to a clean work surface (avoid adding more flour if possible) and divide dough in half. Roll into long loaves and tuck under the ends. Place onto prepared pan. Whisk egg & water together in small bowl and paint egg wash over the tops of the loaves. Using sharp knife, cut diagonal slits in the top of the loaf. Do not cut all the way through the dough. Sprinkle on any spices at this time if you wish. Bake for 30-35 minutes. (adapted from Keep Home Simple)

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There are a lot of variations out there for this pasta recipe. Martha Stewart's recipe uses just water instead of broth. Some recipes use vegetable broth. I'm sure that would be delish too, but I'm more likely to have chicken broth on hand than vegetable. Sometimes I add feta cheese at the end and mix that in. It's all about EASE...whatever you have on hand or feel like throwing in!

One Pot Pasta (printable version)

12 ounces of pasta (linguine or spaghetti)
1 - 15 oz can diced tomatoes with liquid
1/2 sweet onion, chopped or cut into julienne strips
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 small can mushrooms (or 1/2 cup sliced fresh) or 1/2 cup chopped spinach
4 1/2 cups regular chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil

Place pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, basil and mushrooms in a large stock pot or dutch oven. Pour in broth. Sprinkle red pepper flakes on top and drizzle with the olive oil. Semi cover the pot until boiling. Cover fully and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes until almost all the liquid has evaporated. I like to keep about 1/2" left in the bottom. Season to taste with salt & pepper, stirring to evenly coat with the liquid. Garnish with parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!!

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